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'
|Copa Libertadores Review: Universitario, Libertad notch first wins|
|RB Leipzig´s attack worrying Wolfsburg|
|Jardim backs busy Monaco|
|De Boer: ´I´d only sign for an interesting club´|
|Martinez calls for unity|
|A-League Preview: Phoenix staying grounded|
|Danish FA agree to more pay negotiations|
|Rodgers feared sack before ´radical´ change|
|Chelsea turned Valencia´s head - Allardyce|
|Poyet spat was not a good look - Bruce|
|Gold ´hopeful´ over Reid deal|
|´No problem´ with Bruce, says Poyet|
|Sherwood confident in Villa upturn after derby win|
|Pulis stands by Foster after costly error|
|Boulogne 1 Saint-Etienne 1 (aet, 3-4 on penalties): Minnows´ run ends on penalties|
|Schalke want to buy Nastasic|
|Pardew feeling hard done by after Southampton defeat|
|Football League Review: Boro go top as Derby falter again|
|Koeman pleased with ´crucial´ victory|
|Agbonlahor eyes turnaround as Villa end wait for win|
|Equaliser at Hull hit my arm - Rodwell|
|Reus injury ´only a dead leg´|
|Lyon hope for long Lacazette stay|
|DFB-Pokal Review: Leverkusen shake off old foes Kaiserslautern|
|Aston Villa 2 West Brom 1: Benteke on the spot as Villa win at last|
|Hull City 1 Sunderland 1: Rodwell earns visitors a draw in dramatic encounter|
|Southampton 1 Crystal Palace 0: Mane wins it late on|
|Dynamo Dresden 0 Borussia Dortmund 2: Reus withdrawal overshadows Pokal progression|
|Bruce and Poyet clash in ugly touchline spat|
|Dortmund star Reus in new injury scare|
|Lyon success a source of pride for Gonalons|
|Juventus v Fiorentina: Allegri seeking improvement|
|Edu hails ´phenomenon´ Sanchez|
|´Huge money´ needed to take Cech away - Mourinho|
|Lazio v Napoli: Benitez calls for unity in trophy quest|
|West Ham´s Cole landed with FA charge|
|Leeds fan group want meeting with Hollywood star Crowe|
|Suso prepared to wait for Milan chance|
|Ashley fined £7,500 for influence in Rangers|
|Blanc praises Luiz´s versatility|
|Pochettino: League Cup heartbreak will help Spurs grow|
|Carver understands frustration with Van Gaal|
|AFC Champions League Review: Jeonbuk and Kashiwa win convincingly|
|Guardiola committed to Bayern amid City rumours|
|Hughes: Bruce is defending the indefensible|
|Espanyol v Athletic Bilbao: Stuani eyeing ´momentous´ cup final|
|Everton waiting on Baines fitness|
|I am not under pressure, Pellegrini insists|
|Guardiola demands focus ahead of Braunschweig clash|
|Van Gaal: Di Maria needs a year to settle|
|Luis Enrique vows to attack Villarreal|
|Jedinak hit with four-game ban|
|Mourinho guarantees Terry deal|
|Mowbray lands Coventry job|
|Strootman on schedule for Roma return|
|Mikel out for a month after surgery|
|Palace midfielder Jedinak accepts FA charge|
|Wigan chairman Whelan stands down, hands reins to 23-year-old grandson|
|Jedinak stays quiet on FA charge|
|England winger Johnson released on bail|
|Gareca signs four-year Peru deal|
|Sandro set for QPR return|
|Hull dealt Brady blow|
|Garcia going nowhere, insists Pallotta|
|Allardyce: Chelsea aren´t allowed to be off form|
|Arsenal boosted by Ramsey return|
|No early Barca return for Tello|
|Pirlo inspired stunning Tevez free-kick|
|Brunt vows to heap misery on Villa|
|Barry: Everton needs points on the board to avoid relegation scrap|
|Janmaat hails ´fantastic´ Van Gaal|
|Cahill vows to silence critics|
|Spurs legend Mackay passes away|
|Adrian: I get good results against Mourinho|
|Hoffenheim boss wary of rising expectations|
|Sturridge edging closer to his best - Rodgers|
|Kroos happy with deeper role|
|Terry ´fighting´ for Chelsea contract|
|Townsend: No excuses for Tottenham|
|Garcia applauds Roma´s ´magnificent´ comeback|
|Belenenses 0 Pacos de Ferreira 1: Moreira seals rare away win|
|Juve angry at Roma draw - Allegri|
|Roma 1 Juventus 1: Keita keeps slim Scudetto hopes alive|
|Celta Vigo 1 Elche 1: Controversial late penalty gives visitors a point|
|Turkish Super Lig Review: Gala extend lead at the top|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Monaco: Jardim rejects de-facto final talk|
|Stuttgart, Freiburg named in doping claims|
|Dyche hails Ings determination ahead of Liverpool showdown|
|Newcastle United v Manchester United: Mata out to make more memories|
|England winger Johnson suspended after arrest on underage sex charge|
|Liverpool back in the black|
|Jedinak charged with violent conduct|
|BREAKING NEWS: Police make arrest on underage sex charge amid reports England international is held|
|Schone delighted to extend Ajax deal|
|Montolivo and De Jong suffer injuries|
|Bayern Munich v Eintracht Braunschweig: ´Self-critical´ holders in no mood to ease off, says Muller|
|Tottenham v Swansea City: Pochettino out to banish League Cup disappointment|
|QPR v Arsenal: Austin ready for survival fight|
|Sherwood: No hard feelings over missing out on West Brom job|
|Chelsea and Everton fined for fracas|
|Villarreal v Barcelona: Final in sight for visitors|
|Stoke City v Everton: Howard calls for back-to-basics approach|
|Pearson: I understand Pellegrini pressures|
|West Brom sweating on fitness of Berahino and Ideye|
|Manchester City v Leicester City: Pellegrini demands response|
|Feyenoord and Roma face UEFA charges|
|Liverpool v Burnley: Rodgers full of respect for visitors|
|Brown has red card overturned|
|Rodgers heaps praise on Allen|
|Koeman critical of Jedinak elbow|
|Bruce hits back at Hughes over Figueroa challenge|
|Koeman sets 61-point target for Southampton|
|Ibe set to miss a month with knee injury|
|Klopp looking to maintain momentum|
|Bent out for three to four weeks with hamstring injury|
|Schmidt ready for Kaiserslautern clash|
|West Ham v Chelsea: Mourinho turning attention back to the league|
|Barca must not be distracted by Clasico, says Busquets|
|Terry rules out England return|
|De Boer demands more despite PSV win|
|Bony: We have to win every game|
|Subotic rejects Serbia call-up|
|Benitez frustrated at refereeing decisions|
|Real Madrid must learn from Villarreal draw - Marcelo|
|QPR announce losses of £9.8m|
|Rutten to leave Feyenoord|
|First trophy for ´new´ Chelsea - Mourinho|
|Icardi the future of Inter, says Ausilio|
|Patience needed from ´brilliant´ United fans - Rooney|
|Allen hails ´next level´ Coutinho|
|Points over milestones for Cisse|
|Hecking ´furious´ with Wolfsburg defence|
|CONCACAF Champions League Preview: DC United face uphill task to reach semis|
|AFC Champions League Preview: Al Ain enhanced, Wanderers prepare for Evergrande reunion|
|Coupe de France Preview: PSG, Monaco to meet again|
|Crouch happy to silence doubters|
|Blanc questions rivals´ mental strength as PSG gain ground|
|Kane: Fortune favoured Chelsea|
|Ancelotti defends Isco substitution|
|Rooney: Di Maria will come good|
|Stubborn Villarreal impress Real´s Pepe|
|PSG could not ´kill off´ Monaco - Van der Wiel|
|Serie A Review: Napoli suffer defeat at Torino, Lazio lurking|