Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will spent the next four weeks on the sidelines after scans confirmed the injury suffered in Monday night's FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester United was in fact a grade one hamstring tear.
Oxlade-Chamberlain produced a first-half performance full of pace and purpose in the Old Trafford showdown and set up Nacho Monreal's opening goal with mazy dribble through traffic, but pulled up in the 51st minute with a problem which he won't play again until early April at the earliest.
The Guardian reports that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger learned the disappointing news earlier today, but extensive scan results did manage to rule out more severe hamstring damage that would have ended the England international's season prematurely.
Injury problems continue to hamper progress
The 21-year-old will be bitterly disappointed to be back on the treatment table at the business end of the season, particularly after being given a huge vote of confidence by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger with a start in the United match.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was a regular feature in the first half of the season, playing at least some part in Arsenal's first 17 Premier League games. It's been a different story in 2015 though, with a groin strain and now hamstring strain keeping him on the fringes at a time when competition for attacking places at the Emirates is particularly fierce.
Chance for Walcott to stake claim
Arsenal have tentatively pencilled in a Premier League clash with Liverpool on April as a potential return date for Oxlade-Chamberlain, which means while he's absent there's a chance for Theo Walcott to remind Wenger of his quality.
Walcott has been a peripheral figure to put it politely over the last few months, regularly warming the bench despite scoring in his only two Premier League starts of 2015.
A slow return from a cruciate ligament injury can no longer be blamed for his omission from the starting XI, but there should be more first-team opportunities on the horizon very shortly.
Wenger's team selection for Arsenal's next two matches could tell us plenty about Walcott's standing in the first-team squad. The Gunners host West Ham on Saturday before attempting to complete mission impossible in Monaco on Tuesday night.
With Oxlade-Chamberlain's unique brand of pace and power missing surely Walcott will feature in both, otherwise his long-term future has to be in doubt.
Arsenal fans, how disappointing is it to hear that Oxlade-Chamberlain is out for a month? Do you think Walcott will get an overdue chance in his absence? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!
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