Arsene Wenger says his second-string players can do the business in Arsenal's UEFA Champions League match against Porto on Wednesday, after five first-team regulars were ruled out by injury.
Winger Andrey Arshavin, striker Eduardo (both hamstring), goalkeeper Manuel Almunia (finger), defensive midfielder Alex Song (knee) and centre-back William Gallas (back) all failed to travel with the squad on Tuesday, leaving Wenger short in key areas for the last-16 first leg match.
The Frenchman, though, has never been afraid to put his faith in youth and says he is confident that the fringe players who take to the field at the Estadio do Dragao will step up to the mark. "It's not a serious concern. The concern is that the players here perform at their best tomorrow (Wednesday)," said Wenger, who confirmed that most of his absent stars would probably miss the Premier League match against Sunderland on Saturday as well.
The injury to Gallas means that veteran Sol Campbell, who recently returned to the club for a second spell, could be in line to make his first European appearance in an Arsenal shirt since he scored in the Champions League final defeat by Barcelona in 2006. "His experience can be important tomorrow," said Wenger of the 35-year-old. "I haven't decided if he will start the game or not but if he plays, his experience will be valuable."
Eduardo's unavailability, coupled with the long-term absence of Robin van Persie, means that Nicklas Bendtner could also start and Wenger feels the Danish international striker is ready to prove himself at the highest level.
"I believe he's a boy with big potential," said Wenger. "He arrived at 15 and we work very hard with our players to get them to the level they are today. We don't believe in a player for four or five years and then stop believing because people say 'you should buy a striker'. He's the best age now for a striker. He'll still improve, but at 22 you have to start playing at the top level. I would remind you that Thierry Henry arrived (at Arsenal) at 23. And he had a massive career."
Wenger also confirmed that Polish reserve goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski would take Almunia's place between the posts. "Fabianski will play," he said. "I'm a great believer in Fabianski. I believe he's top-level. It's not easy for a goalkeeper to come in and out of the team but I have no doubt about his talent."
Porto captain Bruno Alves, meanwhile, says that his Arsenal counterpart Cesc Fabregas is the man Jesualdo Ferreira's team will have to stop if they are to prevent Arsenal from settling into their feted passing rhythm.
"Fabregas is the most important player in Arsenal's attacking play," said Alves, who scored in his side's 2-0 victory at home to Arsenal in the group phase of last season's competition. "He organises the game and we have to be prepared for him."
Porto's long unbeaten record at home to English sides came to an end when they went down 1-0 to Manchester United in the quarter-finals last term, but Alves insists his team will not be over-cautious against Arsenal. "Our main goal is to gain a good advantage in tomorrow's game," said the 28-year-old Portuguese international. "We go into every competition with a winning mentality; the Champions League is no exception. We have a dream of becoming Champions League winners once again and we believe we can do it."
Porto playmaker Ruben Micael has been tipped to overcome a bruised shoulder to start, while Brazilian World Cup hopeful Hulk is likely to feature up front despite not having played since December 20 due to a domestic ban.