Premier League

Fabianski facing spell out

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Thu, 18 Apr 2013 22:00:00

Hearts have confirmed defender Darren Barr and midfielder Gordon Smith will be leaving the club during the summer.

The duo are among a number of players at Tynecastle who are out of contract at the end of the season.

Barr has been a regular this term following a slow start to his time at the club after arriving from Falkirk, while academy graduate Smith could not make a sustained first-team breakthrough despite scoring in an Edinburgh derby.

Another six players - defender Andy Webster, Marius Zaliukas, Danny Grainger, Dylan McGowan, and Fraser Mullen - have agreements which expire at the end of next month along with forward Arvydas Novikovas.

Hearts boss Gary Locke is uncertain on who will be staying at the club, but he insists his squad has much to play for.

Locke said: "We are still not sure what is happening but no matter what, players are playing for their futures here or for their futures somewhere else.

"It's important that they give it their all from now until the end of the season. I know the lads really well and no matter who plays, they will give it everything they have got.

"Hopefully that will be enough to get us some victories."

The Poland keeper had only just returned to the side following fitness problems, ousting Wojciech Szczesny as he delivered a clean sheet in the Champions League away win over Bayern Munich and then also at Swansea.

However, Fabianski missed the midweek goalless draw against Everton at the Emirates Stadium, and is now set to be monitored "day-by-day" to assess his availability for the crucial run-in as Arsenal look to cement a top-four finish.

"Fabianski has a crack in his rib that has not moved, so we have to treat it clinically,'' said Arsene Wenger, whose side travel to Fulham on Saturday.

"That means has he pain or does he not? That is day by day."

Szczesny, who turned 23 on Thursday, coincidentally sharing a birthday with his Polish team-mate, had little to do against Everton, but was alert enough when called up.

Wenger was happy with the goalkeeper's response to being dropped - which had brought stinging public criticism from the player's father.

"He had a good performance, I was pleased with his focus, with his sharpness," the Arsenal boss said.

"He dealt well with the situation that he faced.

"In our job there is only one way to respond, to practice harder and stronger and show that you are ready for a fight, that is what he did.''

Wenger, meanwhile, has played down suggestions he was set to move for Alex Song in the summer, following reports the combative Cameroon midfielder was unhappy with life at Barcelona, having signed a five-year deal after a ?15million transfer in August.

"There is no buy-back [clause] in his contract,'' said Wenger.

"He is a quality player and sometimes the players have to insist when it doesn't go well and not change his mind too soon.

"My personal advice for him would be to give it another go and after two seasons he can still make a decision.''

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