Revealed: Arsenal feared three-month absence for key player

By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes

Alexis Sanchez was not risked at Stoke on Sunday amid fears he would be sidelined for three months if he suffered a recurrence of his hamstring problem, Football Insider sources understand.

The Chilean took part in full training for Arsenal on Saturday as the team prepared for their Premier League trip to the Britannia Stadium, which ended in a goal-less draw.

Despite Mesut Ozil withdrawing from the squad with a minor foot injury, Arsene Wenger erred on the side of caution after being told Sanchez was not in top condition.

An Arsenal source has told Football Insider that the forward was considered to be “95 per cent fit” by medical staff but, worryingly, would be out for another three months if he played at Stoke and aggravated his hamstring.

Sanchez has been out since late November with a muscle problem that has proved far more complicated than originally anticipated.

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Wenger admitted at his media briefing on Friday that it would have been a “gamble” to recall Sanchez at Stoke.

Sanchez had been pencilled in to return for Arsenal in their FA Cup clash against Sunderland last Sunderland after being out since 29 November, when he went off with a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw against Norwich at Carrow Road.

But he suffered another setback, which came after he previously missed the win over Manchester City on 21 December that had initially been targeted for his comeback.

Arsenal’s next match is the landmark Premier League clash against Chelsea, which takes place at Emirates Stadium on 24 January.