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Arsenal raring to go at Craven Cottage

last updated Wednesday 01st March 2006, 10:27 PM
Arsenal may be heading into the defining phase of their season with a plethora of injuries and on the back of some indifferent domestic form, but no-one at Highbury is giving up the fight just yet.

With England duo Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell still not match fit, Gael Clichy having suffered a setback and Lauren out for the rest of the season, it is in defence where Arsene Wenger has seen his resources stretched.

The 1-0 defeat at Blackburn last weekend saw the Gunners slip back down to seventh in the Barclays Premiership following an eighth away loss of what has been a stop-start domestic campaign.

Wenger takes his men to Fulham on Saturday, focused on picking up three points, knowing that victory is vital to rekindle their hopes of earning another crack at Europe's elite club competition via a top-four finish in the Premiership.

Several Arsenal players will have been away on international duty this week, including teenager Cesc Fabregas, called up to the Spanish national side for the first time for the friendly against the Ivory Coast, along with Jose Antonio Reyes. Emmanuel Eboue is in the Elephants squad and could come up against his team-mates, but centre-back Kolo Toure did not travel after having featured heavily in the run to the final of the African Nations Cup.

It is, though, the fitness of Cole and Campbell which continues to be subject of speculation.

Left-back Cole hurt his ankle early on during Monday night's reserve game against Tottenham, an appearance in which he hoped to build up match fitness after many weeks out with a broken foot and then a thigh problem. The extent of the latest injury has yet to be confirmed, but it is understood to be just a sprain rather than ligament damage but the 25-year-old is still set to be out of contention for up to another month.

Campbell, meanwhile, has yet to play since suffering a nightmare opening 45 minutes in the 3-2 home defeat by West Ham on February 1, an ankle injury sidelining him after being granted an extended leave of absence.

Teenager Theo Walcott is likely to be in the Gunners squad again for the trip to Craven Cottage as he seeks to make his debut following a transfer-window move from Southampton. Wenger insists he would have no qualms about throwing the 16-year-old into the hustle and bustle of top-flight English football. And Walcott declared: "I will play wherever the boss tells me to - I am not bothered."
Source ITV
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