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'
|Pallotta blasts ´disgusting´ referee after Roma defeat|
|Badstuber taking his time after injury nightmare|
|Conte: Terry return between him and Allardyce|
|We beat Bayern to Dembele - Watzke|
|Wanderers bring back Bulut|
|Moyes rules out Kone exit|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Whitecaps, Pachuca win big|
|Bale: I´ll never forget this year|
|Griezmann: I deserve Best Player in Europe Award|
|No surgery for Ayew as West Ham target December return|
|Villarreal did all they could to make it through - Escriba|
|Spalletti rues lack of Roma discipline|
|Conte: Chelsea must learn to kill matches|
|Watford and West Brom crash out of League Cup|
|My longest 90 minutes as a coach - Rodgers|
|AFC Champions League: Goalless draws leave quarter-finals on a knife edge|
|Klopp hopeful over Can injury|
|Champions League play-offs: Nine-man Roma crash out as Monaco edge Villarreal|
|Henderson hails ´outstanding´ Mane after Burton thrashing|
|Chelsea 3 Bristol Rovers 2: Conte´s side survive scare thanks to Batshuayi double|
|Hapoel Be´er Sheva 2 Celtic 0 (4-5 agg): Visitors survive Israeli scare|
|Burton Albion 0 Liverpool 5: Sturridge at the double in Reds rout|
|Leverkusen sign Austria star Dragovic|
|Sakho in the clear as WADA opt against appeal|
|Enyimba 3 Mamelodi Sundowns 1: Udoh brace secures CAF Champions League win|
|Pulisic and Ramos on target as Dortmund wrap up Bundesliga preparations|
|Calleri hoping for Tevez advice|
|Defour hoping for Belgium recall|
|Alaba warns against complacency as Bayern begin Bundesliga defence|
|Bravo arrives in Manchester ahead of City move|
|Dyche backs Gray after striker´s apology for homophobic tweets|
|Gray charged by FA over homophobic tweets|
|Pique: Olympic gold proves Neymar is one of world´s best|
|Marin makes Olympiacos move|
|Zidane arrival the catalyst for one of my best seasons - Ronaldo|
|Moyes ´worried´ about Mannone elbow injury|
|Sidibe rejected Arsenal over playing-time fears|
|Guardiola: Toure could feature against Steaua|
|Hernandez out for two weeks after falling down stairs|
|Bravo nearing City move, admits Guardiola|
|Ballack impressed by Dortmund signings but still backing Bayern|
|Lucescu questions De Boer tactics|
|Milan reject Chelsea bid for Romagnoli|
|Dortmund know how to treat Gotze - Ballack|
|Shevchenko: Bacca must improve consistency|
|´If you heed 100 idiots you will go crazy´ - Bauza on Messi return|
|Valdano relieved over Messi U-turn|
|Nordfeldt in line for loan move after signing fresh Swans deal|
|Dante joins Nice from Wolfsburg|
|De Boer expects fierce fight for Barca number-one spot|
|Newell´s confident over Messi return|
|Stoke confirm Jones interest|
|MLS ´attractive´ to Rooney - Timbers owner|
|Burke re-signs with West Ham|
|Sassuolo rejected Balotelli - CEO|
|Valencia coach Ayestaran rules out Mustafi sale|
|Allardyce plans Guardiola talks over Hart|
|Cahill warns rivals over City attack|
|Allardyce open to Terry England return|
|Drogba dismisses Villa rumours|
|Tuchel pleased despite Dortmund wastefulness|
|Stam´s Reading sign Manchester United youngster Blackett|
|Champions League place main objective for Rodgers|
|Eintracht Trier 0 Borussia Dortmund 3: Kagawa at the double as Tuchel´s men stroll|
|Escriba urges cool heads in Monaco|
|Cherchesov sets bar high for Russia|
|Tite defends Neymar´s captaincy credentials|
|Ancelotti wowed by fit-again Martinez|
|Spalletti: If Roma players are afraid, I don´t want them|
|Klopp laments Origi´s absent rhythm|
|Barcelona let Neymar stay in Brazil ahead of qualifiers|
|De Jong brothers joins forces at PSV|
|Rudiger returns to training|
|Liverpool transfer talk frustrates Klopp|
|Klopp demands final third improvements|
|Everton loan Galloway to West Brom|
|Manchester United loan Borthwick-Jackson to Wolves|
|Braithwaite to snub Premier League interest to stay at Toulouse|
|Strachan leaves out McCormack, Rhodes|
|Napoli plan to limit media commitments|
|Taarabt eager to make Marseille switch|
|Kruse suffers knee ligament injury|
|Rummenigge expects Ribery to be targeted|
|Delaney: Benteke is not Messi, he needs service|
|Ballack urges patience with Pep over City project|
|James happy at Real Madrid - Zidane|
|Harper backs Phelan for permanent Hull role|
|Flexibility the key for Allardyce|
|Allardyce concerned over Hart situation|
|De Bruyne praises Sterling reaction|
|Cavani vows to improve strike rate|
|Britton signs Swansea extension|
|Higuain motivated by ´fat´ comments|
|Conte perplexed by Costa criticism|
|Drinkwater poised to sign new Leicester contract|
|Bobo completes Sydney move|
|Bilic: You can´t count on Carroll|
|MLS Review: Dempsey´s Sounders sink rivals Timbers|
|Zidane: Important year for Bale|
|Galaxy star Rogers alleges homophobic abuse|
|Vieira: Pogba just needs to be himself|
|Bacca: I made a promise to Milan|
|Angry Handanovic critical of Inter|
|Gameiro: Atletico must win at home|
|Klopp: I´d be an idiot if I made a panic buy|
|Simeone: Draw leaves a bad taste in my mouth|
|Montella: Milan must win back fans|
|Asensio revels in goalscoring LaLiga debut for Madrid|
|Atletico Madrid 1 Alaves 1: Hosts denied in dramatic finale|