Arsenal duo not fit for England

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Published: Friday 13th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere will not be fit for international duty with England later this month, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed.

Oxlade-Chamberlain pulled up with a hamstring injury during the second half of Arsenal’s 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win at Manchester United on Monday night.

Wenger expects the 21-year-old, who had just returned to the side following a groin problem, to be sidelined around “three or four weeks”, which rules him out of contention for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley on March 27 and the friendly with Italy in Turin four days later.

Wilshere, meanwhile, is recovering from minor surgery to remove studs from the pin in his ankle, and is also expected to need a few more weeks recovery time.

“It is a classic hamstring. That means he (Oxlade-Chamberlain) will be out for three weeks, four weeks maximum. He will not be available for England as well,” said Wenger, whose side host West Ham on Saturday.

“It is very frustrating for him because he played more games than ever this season. He has shown again on Monday night what an important player he can be for Arsenal and for England.

“He is keen to play for England and I think it is a big blow for him.

“Alex knows as well that it is the type of injury where you can recover quickly and come back, but it is not an ideal moment.”

Wenger confirmed he had not yet spoken to England manager Roy Hodgson, who will name his squad for the upcoming internationals next Thursday.

The Gunners boss, though, is confident Wilshere can recover to play some part in the end-of-season run-in.

Wenger said: “He had a little inflammation of his ankle, so we decided to do it (now).

“We had to rest him anyway, so we decided to get these screws off instead of doing it at the end of the season, when there is England again. We wanted to combine both together.

“I don’t know how long it will be before he returns because we have to respect the progression of his training.

“It has taken a bit longer and I don’t really know why at the moment, but I am hopeful it is a matter of weeks now.”

Wenger added: “Wilshere will not be fit (for England duty). We are March 13. In 17 days, I don’t think he will be available to be an international game.”

Club captain Mikel Arteta is set to resume full training following an ankle injury suffered at the end of November, and is expected to be in contention again at the start of April.

Arteta, 32, is out of contract in the summer, and is expected to agree a one-year extension.

“Normally I would like him to stay on, yes. He has a huge experience and is very important in the squad,” said Wenger, who also confirmed full-back Hector Bellerin was set for a new long-term deal.

Arsenal can cement their place in the top four of the Barclays Premier League with victory over West Ham, who have slipped down to mid-table.

“The mood is good as you can imagine, but focused as well because we know that every single game is a decisive game now, said Wenger, whose side head to Monaco next week looking to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit.

“Every year it (making the top four) gets more difficult because you have more teams who can compete for it, and in future years it will be even harder.

“It is an important part to have a good mixture between focus and composure, that is not easy to find because the tension can be too big.”

Published: Friday 13th March 2015 by The News Editor

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