Danny Welbeck will discover on Monday whether he faces Euro 2016 heartbreak after suffering a suspect torn meniscus in his right knee during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at Manchester City.
While Alexis Sanchez’s second-half equaliser earned a point for Arsenal and move Arsene Wenger’s team to within a point of securing Champions League qualification, Welbeck’s first-half injury cast a cloud over the result with England manager Roy Hodgson due to name his Euro 2016 squad on Thursday.
And although Wenger insisted he would not know the full extent of Welbeck’s injury until the player has been scanned on Monday, the former Manchester United forward could be facing six weeks out – and therefore miss Euro 2016 – if Wenger’s fears are confirmed.
“Danny Welbeck has a knee problem,” Wenger said. “I hope it is not too bad, but we have to wait for a scan.
“I hope it is not bad news. I hope it is not a meniscus, but there is a little sign of that.
“Danny is a strong boy and we tried to keep him on the pitch but straight away he tried to move and said its’ impossible.
“At half-time I looked at him, he was very down and he must have had pain.”
Wenger claimed that he remained optimistic that Welbeck would receive a positive fitness bulletin, with potential for the player to be sidelined for only two weeks if the damage is minor.
“Let’s hope it’s good news,” Wenger said. “The good news is that he may not be out for the Euros and bad news is that he will be.
“I don’t know. I am an optimist, I don’t know if it is the lateral meniscus, let’s wait until we get a really good diagnosis.”
Welbeck’s injury prompted Wenger to replace the forward, who returned from a ten-month knee injury lay-off in February, with midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has only just ended a similarly lengthy shin injury absence.
Wilshere is expected to be named in Hodgson’s England squad this week and Wenger admitted that his contribution against City was a boost for club and country.
“He is well prepared physically and I believe his performance was encouraging,” Wenger said. “He will benefit from this kind of intensity.
“He had not too much time to think about it and sometimes that is the best. His performance was positive.”
While Arsenal must now merely avoid defeat against already-relegated Aston Villa next Sunday to confirm Champions League qualification, City’s fate is now out of their hands, with neighbours Manchester United able to knock them out of the top four with wins against West Ham and Bournemouth this week.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists his team deserve to end the season in the top four, however.
“We are not finished with the season,” Pellegrini said. “If you don’t depend just on what you can do it is more difficult but we will see on Tuesday what will happen between United and West Ham.
“I think we deserved to be in Champions League because we have had 37 games in the position of Champions League.
“Also we have had improvement in the Champions League, but playing so many games is difficult in midweek.
“Not winning this game is not the way we wanted to finish the season, though. We want to qualify for next year’s Champions League.”