Arsene Wenger has refuted claims that Tomas Rosicky's career is over and insists Arsenal can still finish third this season.
Wenger confirmed on Friday that the injury-plagued Rosicky, who has been out for the last 15 months with hamstring tendon trouble, will not play this campaign.
But the Gunners boss refused to accept the Czech midfielder's career is in tatters.
"Tomas' season is over," Wenger said in The Sun. "I had a secret hope he would come back but since he had a second setback at the beginning of April, I thought that's too much.
"It's not a serious setback. He will come back. He has the strength."
Arsenal play host to struggling Middlesbrough on Sunday before Wednesday's all-English UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg at Manchester United.
With fourth place a near certainty, Wenger was expected to make the Old Trafford trip his priority.
But with Arsenal six points behind Chelsea in third with the Blues visiting the Emirates in a fortnight, the Frenchman still has his sights set on an automatic spot in next year's Champions League.
Wenger added: "If we finish fourth it will be much harder for us in the Champions League next season.
"So we must focus on finishing third because that is a guaranteed Champions League place."
Wenger's side are unbeaten in 19 league games and the Gunners boss always believed his young squad had the ability to go on such a run.
He said: "We had a bad start. Something was not right. We lost a little bit of confidence and we had to find balance again in midfield after losing Mathieu Flamini.
"The Hull game was where the confidence went. But we learnt from it as we are a young side."