Robin van Persie, the Arsenal striker, is likely to be out of action until mid-October, the Premier League club said on their website on last night. The Dutch international faces a spell on the sidelines after injuring his ankle in the 2-1 win at Blackburn Rovers on August 28. Van Persie, 27, also missed a large chunk of last season through injury but recovered in time to help his country reach the World Cup final where they lost to Spain in the South Africa showpiece in July.
The news on Van Persie will compound Arsene Wenger's frustration, with Nicklas Bendtner also out with a groin injury. But the Arsenal manager did receive some good news on the injury front with Samir Nasri recovering well from knee surgery . Nasri is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation after the Frenchman sustained a meniscal injury against Liverpool on the opening day of the season. The 23-year-old was expected to be sidelined for a month but Nasri will return to full training in the next few days.
Meanwhile, Stuart Pearce, the England Under 21 manager last night praised Jack Wilshere's maturity after the Arsenal midfielder came off the bench to help fire the Young Lions into the European Championship play-offs with a 3-0 win over Lithuania Under-21s. Wilshere had been an unused substitute for the 1-0 win in Portugal on Friday, and the 18-year-old again did not make the starting XI at Colchester's Weston Homes Community Stadium. But when Wilshere was introduced for the second half he galvanised England. He set up Danny Welbeck, on loan at Sunderland from Manchester United, for the first goal just after the hour, with Aston Villa midfielder Marc Albrighton sweeping home a second before Welbeck netted a third in stoppage time.
"Jack gave us a lift when he came on and had an impact on the game," said Pearce. "For a young man, who in his own mind is expecting to be playing on Friday and then on the back of that was not in the starting line-up again, he has handled that extremely well." * Agencies