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Hleb hoping to win fitness battle

The Arsenal FC midfielder Aleksandr Hleb faces "a week of rest, massage and physiotherapy" on a knee injury as he strives to be fit to face FC Barcelona.

Arsenal FC midfielder Aleksandr Hleb has eased fears that he could miss the UEFA Champions League final with a knee injury. The Belarussian international responded to press speculation about his fitness by telling the Pressball newspaper in his homeland: "The possibility of surgery was discussed but because of the final, we have decided to stick to a week of rest, massage and physiotherapy."

'Obviously sore'
Hleb should therefore be available to face FC Barcelona in Paris on 17 May, despite acknowledging that there is a problem with the joint. "When I showed the knee to the doctor, he said there was a danger of cartilage damage, but it turns out that the meniscus is OK but other parts of the knee are damaged. The knee is obviously sore."

'I heard it crunch'
Hleb underwent a scan on Wednesday after hurting his knee during Arsenal's UEFA Champions League semi-final away to Villarreal CF the night before. "Early in the match, I took a blow to the knee – I heard it crunch and thought I might have to be substituted," the 24-year-old explained. "But the pain died down, I felt better and played the full 90 minutes. Maybe because I had taken painkillers before the game for a bruised leg."