Fabregas praying his World Cup dream isn't in jeopardy

ARSENAL captain Cesc Fabregas was today hoping his worst fears would not be confirmed as Arsenal assessed the extent of an injury which could end both his season and World Cup hopes.

The Gunners skipper had been a doubt for last night's Champions League quarter-final first-leg against Barcelona, which ended in a dramatic 2-2 draw at Emirates Stadium, after suffering severe bruising to his knee and leg at Birmingham.

However, after coming through a fitness test in the warm-up, Fabregas returned to lead the side against his boyhood club – and played a pivotal role in their comeback after falling 2-0 down to a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic which looked to have all but killed off the tie.

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During the closing stages, after substitute Theo Walcott had pulled a goal back, the Gunners skipper – who would have missed the second leg against his old club anyway after being booked in the first half – was bundled over by Carles Puyol and awarded a penalty. It was during that collision with the Barcelona captain, who was shown a red card, that Fabregas suffered the latest problem which the Spain international believes could even end his season – and perhaps threaten participation in South Africa this summer.

"I am not good," said Fabregas, who left Emirates Stadium on crutches. "We have to wait (for the scans), but I hope I can wear the Arsenal shirt again this season. I fear the worst, which is that I have broken something. I do not think it is going to be good news."

Fabregas maintained it had not been a gamble to pick him. "Until the penalty, I was feeling quite good," the Arsenal captain said.

Arsenal also lost defender William Gallas to a reccurrence of his calf problem in what was a first appearance since early February, and manager Arsene Wenger believes the veteran centre-back could now struggle to recover this season. Andrey Arshavin, meanwhile, is a doubt for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash against Wolves after limping off midway through the first half with a calf injury.

In last night's other quarter-final, Inter Milan secured a 1-0 first-leg lead over CSKA Moscow at the San Siro.