Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Abou Diaby has suffered a minor setback on his return from injury. The midfielder, who has been plagued with serious injuries for several seasons, made his return after 13 months out with a cruciate knee ligament injury in an Under-21 fixture against Chelsea this week. But a groin injury picked up in the fixture will prevent him from making his first-team comeback in Monday’s encounter with Newcastle United.

"How far away he is is difficult to say but he had a little groin problem after the game so will not be available for Monday,” Wenger said, according to the Daily Mirror.

Arsenal’s injury problems have healed significantly in recent weeks, with Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey making their first starts after spells on the sidelines in the 3-0 win over Hull City last week. Wenger, though, confirmed that, of those still out, Thomas Vermaelen is the only one who could return at the Emirates on Monday.

“Everybody who was available at Hull last week will be available for Newcastle,” he explained, according to Arsenal’s official website. Vermaelen could be back so everybody should be there but not [Kieran] Gibbs, not Diaby yet. Of course [Jack] Wilshere and [Theo] Walcott are still out as well.”

Gibbs has not played since the FA Cup semifinal two weeks ago due to a hamstring problem., while Wilshere has been missing since the beginning of last month when he fractured a bone in his foot playing in England’s friendly with Denmark. Wenger still expects the midfielder to return before the end of the season.

“Jack is progressing well,” he said. “He is still on course to be with the team in the last couple of games.”

Wenger’s midfield options have already increased substantially from the depths of an injury crisis just a few weeks ago. Ramsey appeared back to his best, despite three months out, when scoring one and creating two further goals against Hull. The fit again Kim Kallstrom, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini present further possibilities in the center of the pitch.

With Lukas Podolski in a rich vein of goal-scoring of form, there is plenty of reason for optimism heading into the closing weeks of the season. After taking on Newcastle, Arsenal welcome West Brom at the Emirates before heading to Norwich City, knowing that maximum points will ensure a 17th straight season in the Champions League.