Dejected Hamsik losing hope of playing in 2013

Injured Napoli midfield star Marek Hamsik is losing hope of returning to action before the New Year.

Napoli will be without Marek Hamsik for this evening's crunch match against Arsenal and also for the weekend's game against Inter as the Slovakian playmaker's injury is more serious than previously believed.

Hamsik is a big loss for Rafa Benitez as he provides a crucial spark of creativity in midfield.

Without him, the Partenopei have struggled in recent weeks and seen their Serie A title challenge stall somewhat.

After feeling an initial twinge, Hamsik rushed back to action as a substitute in Napoli's home game with Parma and limped off after just 10 minutes, which may be his last action of 2013.

"The injury isn't that serious but my foot hurts and I can't run at all in this condition," Hamsik told the Slovakian press.

"I'm getting better but I don't know when I will be back, it could be next year.

"The start to the season might have been my best at Napoli and then the fitness problems started.

"I have been working on my own and put all my hopes in the medical staff."

Hamsik concluded by giving an assessment of Napoli's fortunes at a crucial juncture in the season as they prepare to face Arsenal and Inter.

Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami was also suffering from foot pain but he is expected to play.

Napoli are likely to match Arsenal in playing a 4-2-3-1 with Gokhan Inler partnering Behrami in covering the defence. has Lorenzo Insigne sitting on the bench while Dries Mertens, Goran Pandev and Jose Callejon sit behind the dangerous Gonzalo Higuain up front.

Probably Starting Line Ups according to

NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Reina; Maggio, Albiol, Britos, Armero; Behrami, Inler; Mertens, Pandev, Callejon; Higuain. Subs: Rafael, Cannavaro, Uvini, Fernandez, Dzemaili, Insigne, Duvan

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1) Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini, Wilshere; Ramsey, Ozil, Rosicky; Giroud. Subs: Fabiaski, Vermaelen, Walcott, Monreal, Arteta, Cazorla, Bendtner

image: © Champions League," he insisted. "It would be extraordinary to get 12 points.

"In Serie A no game can be taken for granted and we shouldn't beat ourselves up too much because there's time to make up lost ground."

image: © vincentteeuwen

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