Arsene Wenger has admitted he is likely to have to go into the transfer market after being dealt a double injury blow.
Arsenal defender Sebastien Squillaci suffered a hamstring injury in the FA Cup draw with Leeds and he is facing a lay-off.
That comes on top of a new setback for Thomas Vermaelen who has not played for Arsenal since the end of August because of a long-running Achilles injury.
Belgian defender Vermaelen resumed some training last week but the pain in his Achilles flared up again and further tests have left Arsenal uncertain when he will play again.
It means that Wenger will now have to dip into the January market with Bolton’s Gary Cahill and Werder Bremen stopper Per Mertesacker among his likely targets. Wenger also went for Everton’s Phil Jagielka last summer.
The injury to Squillaci leaves Wenger with only Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny as his fit centre halves. Spanish teenager Ignasi Miquel, 18, was on the bench against Leeds after being promoted from the reserves.
It shows how short Arsenal are of defenders after allowing Philippe Senderos, Mikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell to leave last summer while only Koscielny and Squillaci were brought in.
Wenger said: “Squillaci came off with a little hamstring problem and if we only have two centre backs then that cannot work with the number of centre backs we have. If he has a problem then we must quickly go our for a player.”
Wenger has been promised money to spend in January and has already insisted if Vermaelen does not make a speedy return then Arsenal will buy.
Cahill is likely to be the favoured option even if Bolton boss Owen Coyle does not want to sell. However, Bolton’s move for Middlesbrough’s David Wheater could mean that Coyle may be tempted by a big offer.
Arsenal also went for Germany defender Mertesacker last summer and Bremen’s exit from the Champions League may mean they may now sell. Everton also knocked back two bids from Arsenal for Jagielka but they may struggle to resist a big offer.