Premier League

Szczesny: I don't want to leave

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Mon, 18 Mar 2013 17:43:00

Cardiff captain Mark Hudson looks set to miss three to four weeks of action and may require surgery on his injured ankle.

The 30-year-old defender was forced off at half-time in the Bluebirds' 1-1 draw with Derby with an ankle injury which forced him to miss the victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

"There is a complication and that's something we are looking into," manager Malky Mackay told the South Wales Echo.

"There are conversations needed with our medical people and I can't put a timescale on when Mark is back.

"It looks at least three or four weeks, but we still have to make decisions."

Mackay loaned in Norwich defender Leon Barnett last week and the former West Brom man looks likely to be a regular in the skipper's absence.

Korey Smith is set to make his Oldham debut as Lee Johnson starts his managerial career at Boundary Park against Pools.

Smith has joined the League One strugglers on a one-month loan deal from Norwich and is fit to feature against John Hughes' side.

Johnson inherits a Latics side placed 21st in the table after he was confirmed as Paul Dickov's permanent replacement.

His first task will be to halt a run of three consecutive league defeats which has left his team two points from safety.

The youngest manager in the Football League will be without Matt Smith (knee) and Cliff Byrne (ankle) who both remain absent.

Johnson has no other injury or suspension concerns with Kirk Millar, Cristian Montano and Robbie Simpson all hoping for a change in selection under the new regime.

For the visitors, Hughes could pick the same starting line-up for the midweek encounter.

The Hartlepool boss has no new injury or suspension problems and could opt for the same XI that started in the narrow weekend defeat at Coventry.

That could mean a place on the substitutes' bench again for striker Steve Howard, who has yet to start a game since late January after shaking off a hamstring strain.

Antony Sweeney made his first start since January at the Ricoh Arena after his recovery from a knee injury and lasted 70 minutes. He is expected to resume in midfield alongside Ritchie Humphreys, Simon Walton and Jonathan Franks.

Teenage striker Luke James is pushing for a recall, but James Poole is likely to continue his partnership with Middlesbrough loanee Charlie Wyke up front.

Teenage defenders Jordan Richards and Jack Baldwin are out for the rest of the season with respective knee injuries.

The Poland international was dropped for the Champions League game against Bayern Munich last week as manager Arsene Wenger felt the 22-year-old had been "mentally affected" by the number of games played, and again took him out of the firing line for Saturday's trip to Swansea where Lukasz Fabianski kept a second consecutive clean sheet.

Despite maintaining he could offer no players a guarantee of a place in his side - not even captain Thomas Vermaelen, who also sat out the last two Gunners matches - Wenger insists Szczesny remains part of his long-term plans, having taken a chance on the young Pole who came through Arsenal's youth ranks after joining the club's academy from hometown side Legia Warsaw in 2006.

Speaking to Poland daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza in an interview conducted before the Swansea game, Szczesny said: "I am too happy to go somewhere else. I believe in the philosophy of the club and that Arsenal will start to win again.

"I have a debt to pay here for the club, I owe them. I just do not want to go anywhere else.

"As long as they want me here, there is no 'somewhere else', and I have a contract until June 2015."

Arsenal beat Swansea 2-0 away on Saturday as they battled back into contention for a top-four finish, with Tottenham's 1-0 home defeat by Fulham leaving them four points behind their local rivals, with a match in hand and a superior goal difference.

Szczesny feels it is unthinkable for Wenger's men to miss out on playing in the Champions League next season.

"It is halfway through March and we have lost everything. There are still 10 matches left to save the club against the humiliation of all times," he added.

"It would be disaster not to be in the top four and without Champions League next year.

"We have the 10 most important games in our careers. We are going through the most difficult time since I came here."

Defender Carl Jenkinson feels Arsenal need to focus on delivering consistent performances from their own remaining nine matches, following the win at Swansea, rather than worry about the shortcomings of others.

Speaking to Arsenal Player, Jenkinson said: "We just need to concentrate on ourselves. Other teams are going to drop points.

"We want to win every game and we are capable of doing that.

"Our form hasn't been bad. It can be better of course. From now it's just about now until the end of the season. That's going to be what makes or breaks us, so it's almost like a little season in itself.

"We just need to get on a good run and keep it going. If we do that, we'll end up where we need to be."

Arsenal beat Swansea without England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who is nursing an ankle problem independent of the injury which sidelined him for more than a year.

Reports on Monday afternoon suggested the 21-year-old, who has been allowed time away in Dubai to aid his rehabilitation, is set for an extended spell on the sidelines.

However, Wenger expects to see him return after the international break, with Arsenal's next Premier League game against Reading on March 30.

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