Arsene Wenger insists he will not take a gamble with Robin van Persie unless the Dutch forward is “100% fit” to face Barcelona at the Nou Camp tonight.
Van Persie was substituted during the Gunners’ Carling Cup final defeat against Birmingham after suffering a knee injury while scoring the equaliser at Wembley.
The second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie, into which Arsenal take a slender 2-1 lead, was expected to come too soon for the Holland striker.
However, Van Persie trained with his team-mates at London Colney this morning and was part of the 19-man squad which left Luton Airport this afternoon.
The squad also included fit again skipper Cesc Fabregas who had been out with a hamstring problem.
While Fabregas is now certain to face the club he left as a teenager, Wenger revealed there would be no risks taken with 14-goal striker Van Persie, who has been plagued by injury setbacks in recent seasons.
“Van Persie is here as a player and will have a test tomorrow. We are 19 here in he squad. Whether Van Persie will be included has not been decided yet,” Wenger said.
“He has made quick progress in the last three days. This morning he was really unlikely to travel.
“He wanted to have a go. We made a test and it was quite positive.”
Wenger insisted he was “very bad at mind games”, after Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola was asked if it was a surprise to see Van Persie in the travelling party.
However, the Gunners boss insisted: “We will not take a gamble in a game of that importance, so he will have to be fit or not fit. I would like him to play. But I will only play him if he is 100% fit.”