Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal will have to “think about” signing a new striker after the injury to Danny Welbeck.
Euro 2016 hopeful Welbeck was earmarked for a place in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man England squad for France, but the forward has undergone knee surgery and will be sidelined for nine months.
The 25-year-old suffered his injury blow in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Manchester City at The Etihad. Welbeck, who only returned in mid-February from a 10-month lay-off due to an injury to his other knee, limped off after just 25 minutes against City and was replaced by Jack Wilshere.
It leaves a huge hole in Wenger’s forward line, with Welbeck featuring 16 times and scoring five times since returning from injury with the winning goal against champions Leicester at The Emirates in February.
Asked whether he would bring in striking reinforcements in the summer, Wenger said: “We have to think about that. When a player is out for nine months, you consider it as a season.
“That makes us short on the striker front.”
At his press briefing ahead of Sunday’s final game with Aston Villa the Gunners boss was asked if he could he have done more in January to boost the squad.
Wenger replied: “I agree. I look at myself and what I could have done.
“Which decisions did I not get right? Welbeck was out for a long time, Cazorla was out for five months, Coquelin out for four months.
“Elneny and Iwobi have done well but you don’t find players available in January – who could have strengthened.”
Wenger admitted the “versatile” Welbeck will be a big loss to England this summer.
“We are all devastated and very sad – the whole team. It is surprising news. I expected for him to miss the Euros but to be out for such a long time .
“We will support him and I have a secret hope it could be shorter. He was a key player for England and he is very versatile.
“I believe it is a big loss for England.”
Speaking about the season, with Arsenal still in the hunt for a second-placed finish, Wenger admitted his frustration at finishing so many points behind the champions Leicester.
“It was a strange season and we finish disappointed,” added Wenger. “We had a chance to win the title and we are frustrated. It is a missed opportunity.
“Leicester had consistent results and everybody else had ups and downs.
“We want to finish as high as possible and in front of Spurs. Ideally, we want to get in front of them.”