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'
|Honduras appoint Medford|
|Van Gaal delighted with United display|
|Roma battle past Real Madrid|
|Simeone talks up Hernandez transfer|
|Defensor Sporting 1 Nacional Asuncion 0 (1-2 agg): Visitors into final despite loss|
|United edge Inter on penalties|
|Gerrard: It´s been ´the worst three months of my life´|
|Sabella set to quit Argentina post|
|Toure plans to see out career with City|
|Tevez´s father released after kidnapping|
|Benitez denies Callejon spat|
|Brownhill stunner downs Burnley|
|Sunderland edge out Recreativo|
|Barton and Hoilett earn QPR draw|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Lafata treble puts Sparta in command, Slovan beat Sheriff|
|Gomis opens Swansea account at Exeter|
|Schneiderlin hints at Southampton discontent|
|Scolari makes Gremio return|
|Bojan strike in vain as Schalke beat Stoke|
|Tevez to miss friendly amid kidnap reports|
|Porto sign Jose Angel from Roma|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Trencin v Hull City|
|Liverpool land Origi|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Torino return to Europe after 20-year absence|
|Rodriguez and Schneiderlin not for sale, say Southampton|
|Rakitic: Not all about front three|
|Barkley pens new Everton deal|
|Guardiola relishing Chivas friendly|
|Drogba targets Premier League glory|
|Hull make Maguire and Robertson double swoop|
|Perisic blow for Wolfsburg|
|Ibrahimovic scores hat-trick as PSG hammer Kitchee|
|Al-Hilal coach sacked over referee row|
|La Liga boss wants cream of the crop|
|Valencia granted work permit, completes West Ham move|
|Atletico complete deal for Griezmann|
|Reus focused on fitness battle despite ´major European interest´|
|Barcelona announce club-record revenue|
|Bony could be sold for right price, says Jenkins|
|Confidence key for Newcastle, says Taylor|
|Saivet out for four weeks with knee injury|
|Genk part company with Ferrera after just one game of season|
|Gold clarifies Twitter gaffe|
|Vidic adapting to different style at Inter|
|Toulouse bring in Matheus|
|Butragueno backs Rodriguez to cope with pressure|
|Benteke aiming to come back stronger|
|Valdez joins Frankfurt|
|Jovetic ready to shine|
|Simeone hails Griezmann qualities|
|Monk unsure over De Guzman future|
|Benitez: Michu will take time to adjust|
|Diaby confident of staying fit|
|Shaw not fit enough, says Van Gaal|
|MLS Preview: RSL look for attacking spark|
|Monk slaps ´astronomical´ price on Bony´s head|
|Australian clubs looking at Ronaldinho|
|Sinclair enjoying ´one of the best pre-seasons´|
|Spiranovic surgery a success|
|Seattle Sounders 0 Los Angeles Galaxy 3: First-half blitz fires Californians to victory|
|Lemina thrilled with Bielsa effect|
|Bayern´s Green chomping at the bit|
|Palace complete US tour with easy win|
|Carragher: Liverpool didn´t want me|
|Simeone: Atleti´s La Liga triumph was no fluke|
|Sturridge: ´I´ll step up´|
|Van Gaal: Formation gives United flexibility|
|Mathieu insists age is no barrier|
|Martinez the deal sealer, says Besic|
|Coaches embrace blockbuster Serie A start|
|Ronaldinho to leave Atletico Mineiro|
|Lorient capture Ayew|
|Celtic loan Berget, sell Watt|
|Pires signs up for Indian Super League|
|Allegri set for early San Siro reunion in maiden Juve campaign|
|Bakayoko makes Monaco move|
|Bakayoko makes Monaco move|
|Lens granted Ligue 1 place|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Red-hot Salzburg face Qarabag|
|Parma bring in Cassani from Fiorentina|
|De Vrij set for Lazio|
|BREAKING NEWS: Everton complete Besic signing|
|Kongolo pens Feyenoord extension|
|Redknapp confirms Granero exit|
|Advocaat confirmed as Serbia coach|
|CSL Preview: Henan aim to escape drop zone, Liaoning host Guangzhou RandF|
|Arribas makes Sevilla switch|
|Chambers joins Arsenal|
|Ospina buoyed by Arsenal recruitment|
|Liverpool´s loss is our gain, says Redknapp on Remy|
|Ferdinand: I would still be at United with Giggs in charge|
|Pepe targets Super Cup glory|
|Martinez prioritising striker signing|
|Perez not looking to leave Benfica|
|Klopp itching to work with full Dortmund squad|
|Mourinho: It feels like Drogba never left|
|FIFA asks for FIGC review into alleged racist remark|
|Hull to review Maguire deal|
|Wenger prepared to gamble on Chambers|
|Atletico agree Griezmann deal|
|Irvine planning further striker addition|
|Campbell: Black professionals scared to talk about racism|
|Mata backs Herrera to star in Premier League|
|Injured Rafael returning to Manchester|
|Schmidt demands more from Leverkusen|
|Copa Libertadores Preview: Defensor Sporting banking on home record|
|Remy´s Liverpool move off, confirms Rodgers|
|Inzaghi demands nastiness from Milan|
|MLS Review: Timbers triumph in Montreal, Dallas thwart Vancouver|
|Jovetic ready to lead City line - Pellegrini|
|Lewandowski impresses Ribery, Alaba|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Three clubs remain perfect, Atletico Nacional get off the mark|
|Rodgers: ´We can score goals´ without Suarez|
|Chilean Primera Division Review: Canales brace powers Universidad Chile|
|Atletico Madrid need penalties to edge past Earthquakes|
|Liga MX Review: Monterrey, America stay perfect|
|Paraguayan Primera Division Review: Capiata set pace|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Cruzeiro win again, Kaka scores|
|Sterling goal sees Liverpool past Olympiacos|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Los Caimanes notch maiden win, Inti Gas claim top spot|
|CAF Champions League Review: Zamalek held, Vita Club leave it late|
|Jovetic at the double as Manchester City thrash Milan|