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Injuries may force Wenger to play teenager

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Teenager Hector Bellerin may start at right back for Arsenal due to an injury crisis in defence. David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Teenager Hector Bellerin may start at right back for Arsenal due to an injury crisis in defence. David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Teenager Hector Bellerin may start at right back for Arsenal due to an injury crisis in defence. David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsène Wenger goes into Arsenal's first Champions League game of the group stages against Borussia Dortmund tonight with an injury crisis in defence that might yet force him to improvise at right-back with either midfielder Mathieu Flamini or Spanish teenager Hector Bellerin.

The Arsenal manager revealed in Germany that Calum Chambers is "50-50" for the match, having developed tonsillitis on Sunday. Nacho Monreal has been left behind with a minor back problem. Mathieu Debuchy was already facing a long lay-off following the ankle injury he sustained in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Manchester City.

Wenger has brought 19 players to Dortmund to cover himself in the event that Chambers is unavailable.

Bellerin, a 19-year-old Spain youth international, played his only senior game in last year's League Cup tie with West Brom.

The Arsenal manager is down to his last three fit senior defenders. In addition he has left Yaya Sanogo in London, where the striker will recover from a hamstring issue. Wenger denied that the series of injuries to the squad, now without the departed Thomas Vermaelen, had left him stretched for resources, although he conceded that he could not afford any more.

Wenger said: "The Mathieu Debuchy injury put us in a position where we do not want more and, hopefully, we have good news after the scan that he can be back soon. We have Chambers who can play in different positions, Monreal who can play centre-back and Bellerin, who I think now is ready to play."

Wenger said that he was confident the player, signed from Barcelona and sent on loan to Watford last season, was ready to make the step up.

Wenger said: "He's a boy with personality. He's not fazed by the pressure. That's important when you're a young boy. He's quick and his final ball is good. He lacks a bit of experience but he's very dangerous."

Wenger will leave it late to decide whether Chambers is well enough to play. He said that he did not believe Monreal's back problem was serious and he should be back in action by the end of the week. He will also have to decide whether Jack Wilshere will be rested after his performance on Saturday against City.

The consolation for Arsenal is that Jürgen Klopp's Dortmund team are depleted. Defender Mats Hummels is not fit, Marco Reus is still not back from the knock he sustained against Scotland while Ilkay Gündogan is out with a long-term back injury. Polish wideman Jakub Blaszczykowski, ex-Liverpool midfielder Nuri Sahin, Oliver Kirch and Marcel Schmelzer all miss out. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent