LONDON COLNEY, England (AFP) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said the absence of captain Cesc Fabregas cannot be used as an excuse by the Gunners when they face Porto in their Champions League clash on Tuesday.
The Premier League side, 2-1 down from the first leg of their last 16 tie in Portugal, suffered a fresh setback on Monday when Spain midfielder Fabregas was ruled out with a hamstring problem.
Fabregas missed training on Monday because of a right hamstring injury that saw him limp off after scoring in the 3-1 league win over Burnley on Saturday.
It is the same injury that sidelined Fabregas at the turn of the year.
"Cesc is ruled out," Wenger told reporters at Arsenal's training ground here on Monday.
"He has a hamstring problem and we could not even take a gamble with him," the Frenchman added.
"Ideally we wanted him to be there but we want to qualify and the absence of Cesc is no excuse at all.
"We have enough players and a strong enough squad to get round that and have enough chances to qualify."
Fabregas is Arsenal's leading scorer this season with 17 goals but Wenger said the risk of playing him against Porto was too great.
"We don't know how long he will be out. He is having a scan today (Monday). He has a small chance of getting back for next weekend against Hull, but to play him again (on Tuesday) would mean significant damage."
Arsenal, who've never been crowned champions of Europe, have plenty of injuries to contend with, aside from Fabregas's hamstring, ahead of Tuesday's match at the Emirates Stadium.
Fellow midfielder Aaron Ramsey (broken leg) will miss the rest of the season while William Gallas has a calf problem and will not return until next week.
Robin van Persie is still out with ankle ligament damage and Kieran Gibbs is also out with a broken foot.
It's almost 30 years since the Gunners, who lost the 2006 Champions League final to Barcelona, overturned a first-leg defeat in Europe, but Wenger believes veteran defender Sol Campbell's away goal in Portugal could prove vital in turning the tie around.
"We have scored away from home which is still a massive advantage, and that's why we are confident we can do it," Wenger said.
And his faith extends to misfiring Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner.
The 22-year-old failed to convert several fine chances against Burnley, a side battling to avoid relegation from English football's top flight, but Wenger reckons Bendtner could yet help guide Arsenal into the Champions League quarter-finals.
"He has good mental strength and even if he was disappointed with the chances he missed, it will not diminish his desire and confidence going into the next game," Wenger said.
Wenger will replace Polish goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who gifted Porto two goals in the first leg, with Manuel Almunia.
The Spaniard, who will also captain the side in place of Fabregas and Gallas, claims he is now back to his best after a difficult six months.
Almunia was struck down by a stomach bug in September which robbed him of his place in the Arsenal side and the 32-year-old was then told his mother-in-law had been killed in a car crash in Spain.
He has since come to terms with his grief and has volunteered to be a father-figure to any of the club's youngsters.
"At that time, I was very low, not very strong to continue, but I took my time and now I am ready again," Almunia said.
"Every person, every player has had experiences, where the next day you have to wake up and continue working, getting on with your life.
"This squad is very young, and if anybody needs help, I am here for them."
|52||N. Bendtner||10' 25' 44' 90+1'|
|Coach: A. Wenger|
for T. Rosický 57'
for S. Nasri 73'
for A. Arshavin 77'
|Liverpool relishing Britannia return, says Henderson|
|Everton big enough to keep Stones - Martinez|
|MLS Review: Fire stun Dallas as goals dry up|
|New Atletico signings excite Raul Garcia|
|Cahill expects Arsenal title challenge|
|Jovetic happy with Inter debut|
|Yanev calls for calm after ugly scenes in friendly|
|Luis Enrique: Barca defence must improve|
|Coppa Italia Review: Cittadella romp to victory, Brescia rely on penalties|
|Arsenal have learned how to play against big teams - Ramsey|
|Shawcross to visit specialist over back woe|
|Fiorentina 2 Barcelona 1: Bernardeschi double sends Barca to another defeat|
|Mancini hints at Melo interest|
|Rodgers hails ´incredible´ Benteke strike|
|Galatasary 1 Inter 0: Sneijder sinks former club|
|Wenger defends Arsenal approach|
|Wembley loss has no bearing on new season - Terry|
|Porto cruise to friendly win over Stoke|
|Mourinho denies Wenger ´snub´ suggestions|
|Arsenal abandoned their philosophy to win Community Shield - Mourinho|
|Mourinho throws Community Shield medal into Wembley crowd|
|Swindon Town 1 Liverpool 2: Benteke nets stunner on debut|
|Scottish Premiership Review: Hearts win thriller on top-flight return|
|Ujah at the double as Bremen beat West Ham|
|Mourinho: We were the better team|
|Wenger hails defensive solidity|
|Rooney returns as Villarreal spoil Ferguson´s party|
|Rodriguez stunner earns Southampton draw as Caulker makes debut|
|Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0: Case of 14th time lucky for Wenger against Mourinho|
|Taechaubol announces Milan agreement|
|Jojic fires Cologne to latest victory|
|China 0 South Korea 2: Kim and Lee seal victory|
|Origi getting up to speed|
|Costa a doubt for start of season - Mourinho|
|North Korea 2 Japan 1: Halilhodzic´s men spurn lead|
|Allam brands FA ´amateurs´ as name-change row rumbles on|
|Fournier ´worried´ by Lyon pre-season|
|Swansea still working on Michu exit - Monk|
|Neuer furious at Bayern Supercup defeat|
|Wenger: Ozil signing not a mistake|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Shakhtar ready for Fenerbahce decider|
|Lampard targets MLS play-offs for City|
|MLS Review: Goals galore as DC United win 10-goal thriller|
|Ronaldinho returns and helps Fluminense to win|
|Keane: United won´t overtake Chelsea|
|Casillas has the ´enthusiasm of a 20-year-old´ - Lopetegui|
|Blanc hopeful over Ibrahimovic knee injury|
|Guardiola laments late goal in Supercup defeat|
|Tuchel plans to keep Bender|
|Hecking happy with Wolfsburg discipline after Supercup win|
|Arsenal players too interested in selfies and six-packs - Keane|
|Confusion over Ibrahimovic´s PSG future|
|Sporting Lisbon 2 Roma 0: Slimani, Mane inspire Portuguese hosts|
|Rodgers feeling ready for new campaign|
|Khedira to miss Supercoppa|
|Paris Saint-Germain 2 Lyon 0: Aurier and Cavani seal more silverware|
|Wolfsburg 1 Bayern Munich 1 (5-4 on penalties): Super-sub Bendtner nicks it for Pokal champions|
|Lampard´s long-awaited New York City debut ends in defeat|
|Casillas the spot-kick hero for Porto|
|Monk bullish ahead of season opener at champions|
|Marseille 2-0 Juventus: Night to forget for Serie A champions|
|Swansea end pre-season with yet another draw|
|HJK 0 Liverpool 2: Origi and Coutinho on target|
|Juventus rocked by Khedira injury scare|
|Lens and Pantilimon star as Sunderland beat Hannover|
|Pardew hopeful of concluding Wickham deal|
|Martinez allays Lukaku fears|
|Stuttgart 4 Manchester City 2: Cause for concern for Pellegrini|
|Wasteful Bournemouth held by Hoffenheim|
|Jerome seals Norwich win|
|Souare´s first goal ensures Palace draw|
|Sinclair hits hat-trick in Villa draw|
|Leicester end pre-season with thrilling Birmingham win|
|Wood and Mowatt condemn Everton to friendly defeat|
|Coloccini not involved as Newcastle lose to Gladbach|
|Borussia Dortmund 2 Real Betis 0: Ramos scores on return from injury|
|Stoke lose to Cologne on Afellay debut|
|Norwich capture goalkeeper Kean|
|Jovetic hits out at Pellegrini following City exit|
|Jones backing new boys to spark United revival|
|Scottish Premiership Review: Celtic up and running, Dundee hammer Kilmarnock|
|Can keen to learn from Milner|
|Immobile on the mend following friendly scare|
|Sagan Tosu 1 Atletico Madrid 1 (1-4 on penalties): Simeone´s men need spot-kicks|
|Cahill: Big-spending rivals will make title race tougher|
|Roberto happy to play full-back for Barca|
|Gestede eager to make his mark at Villa|
|I want to play more and score more - Remy|
|Lambert influence important, says Pulis|
|Benteke a ´bargain´ buy - Rodgers|
|Zola: Qatar would be ideal for Balotelli, Cassano|
|Suarez: I´m not among world´s best|
|PSG ready despite ´chaotic´ pre-season - Blanc|
|Arsenal thumping still hurts - Fournier|
|Aubameyang targets Champions League success|
|Rooney set for Everton return|
|Cech can match Van der Sar - Wenger|
|Mourinho ponders Wenger´s losing record against him|
|CBF confirm Fred failed a doping test|