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Mathieu Flamini limps off and Theo Walcott scores as internationals get under way

It took just 15 minutes of play in this week's international games for Arsenal to be hit with the first injury.

Mathieu Flamini - arguably our most improved player this season - limped off on the quarter hour mark of the France A team's game against Congo with an injured knee, thigh or ankle, depending on which report you read, meaning he is now doubtful for Monday's Premier League clash with Blackburn. More worrying is the prospect of the Gunners travelling minus the Flamster to Old Trafford on February 16th for the FA Cup tie with Manchester United.

I'll keep you informed on the extent of Flamini's injury as soon as I hear any news.

Elsewhere in the same pointless goal-less draw, Gael Clichy got his first international cap, playing alongside Bacary Sagna at the back for the entire 90 minutes, while Abou Diaby was an unused sub. William Gallas will play in the France first team tonight against Spain in Malaga.

Elsewhere yesterday, Theo Walcott had a better night than his Gallic team mates as England's Under-21s cruised past the Republic of Ireland...

Walcott notched the final goal in the 3-0 win over the Irish, scoring on his return to his former club Southampton's St Mary's stadium. I've said before that even though I'm not Theo's biggest fan, the England Under-21 games give us a taster of what we can expect from the teenager when he is eventually played in his true position as a striker. (Just for clarification, I think Walcott gets far too many chances in the first team and that Arsene Wenger should give other promising fringe players a few more opportunities).

The England victory all but guarantees the youngsters a play-off place to reach the 2009 European Championships. The deadlock against the Irish was broken when Stephen O'Halloran deflected James Milner's low cross into his own net after an hour of play.

Then as the lead set into the Irish legs, Milner pounced again to hammer home a low 25-yard drive , before Theo eliminated all hopes of a comeback with a crisp finish, clipping the ball into the visitors' net.

The victory means that Stuart Pearce's team need only draw with Portugal in their final group game to claim top spot in the table and guarantee a play-off place for next year's tournament.

Let's hope the majority of Arsenal's internationalists can return to their club with similar success stories to Walcott this week, rather than hobbling back like Flamini. I'll keep you posted on today's internationals involving the Gunners stars as the news starts to come in.

Came straight to this page? Visit www.arsenalpies.tv for all the latest news.

Posted by Gordon Masson on February 6, 2008 9:48 AM in Match Report| News| Players
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