Backpage Roundup: Double Injury Boost for Arsenal, Podolski Wants Central Role, Jol Supports Wenger, Jenkinson Set for England Call-Up and More

Double Injury Boost for Arsenal

There is some good news for Arsenal fans on the injury front as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny started in their under-21 side’s 2-1 defeat to West Ham United on Friday and showed no ill effects of the ankle injury that has limited him to just two appearances so far this season.

Moreover, attacking midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who underwent surgery in the summer to repair an Achilles tendon, was also spotted training with the rest of the club’s squad today, meaning that he too would be back in the first-team fold in the near future.

Szczesny’s stand-in Vito Mannone has made several mistakes in his absence, while Arsenal have been missing Rosicky’s creativity that inspired the club to a third-place finish last season. Both the players’ potential first-team return could provide a massive boost to coach Arsene Wenger’s side that has been struggling for results in the past few weeks.

 

Next 10 Games Crucial For Wilshere – Wenger

Jack Wilshere may have shown no ill-effects of his 17-month-long injury layoff since returning back to playing football for Arsenal but coach Arsene Wenger says that he still has his doubts about the 20-year-old’s fitness levels.

The Arsenal manager is content with what he has seen so far but he believes that a proper assessment of Wilshere’s fitness could only be made once he has 10 more games under his belt.

Talking to reporters at the opening of Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Lung Function Unit, Wenger said: “Jack is not completely through yet the big test of durability, but the fact is that he has come out in a positive way from the three first games, which were quite intense. The first response is positive. Let’s touch wood and hope he gets through well. The next 10 games, of course, will tell you a lot more about that.”

 

Now Podolski Wants Central Berth

Lukas Podolski has spoken of his desire to play in a more central role for Arsenal and revealed that he doesn’t enjoy performing the defensive duties that come with playing on the left side of the attack.

The German international has been used primarily as a left-sided forward since arriving at Arsenal from Cologne in the summer, but like his teammate Theo Walcott, he too believes that his productivity for the club could increase if he is deployed as a centre-forward.

In a recent interview, Podolski said: “I’d rather play centrally up front. On the left, I have to do a lot of defensive work, constantly running up and down. But I am not a classical winger. Arsenal was a change, a different country and a new club. I am getting along well, for sure, but I demand more of myself – I want to play even better.”

 

Caley Keen to Extend Roberts’ Loan Deal

Arsenal youngster Philip Roberts has impressed Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Terry Butcher, who now wants the 18-year-old to stay at the SPL club for the remainder of the 2012/13 season.

The talented striker is currently scheduled to return back to Arsenal in January but the Caley boss is a huge fan of his abilities and he would like to discuss a loan extension with the Gunners in the near future.

Butcher said: “Philip Roberts has indicated he would like to stay. We would like to get it concluded pretty quickly and I am very optimistic we will do it soon. He is such a smashing kid and he is enjoying his football with us. It is a great credit to Arsenal for loaning him to us and there is so much more to come from him.”

 

Jenkinson Awaiting FIFA Clearance

Carl Jenkinson is all set to receive his first England call-up although he still hasn’t received his international clearance from FIFA.

The Arsenal right-back has applied for an international switch of allegiance from Finland to England, and he will be named in the Three Lions’ squad for their upcoming friendly with Sweden, provided that all the formalities are completed in time.

The 20-year-old’s name wasn’t included in the provisional squad but that was only due to the fact that his switch has yet to be approved by FIFA. Explaining the reason behind Jenkinson’s snub, coach Roy Hodgson said: “The reason I didn’t include Carl from the start is because we haven’t, at this moment in time, got clearance from FIFA, but we do believe that they are going to grant that clearance within a day or two.

“So, by next Wednesday, he will be clear to play. He wants to play for England and has made that clear, so we applied for permission to FIFA, as one is allowed to do, immediately after he left us and before we set off for Poland. That was a month ago but I didn’t want to put his name down in a squad until such time as I had FIFA clearance saying he’s available to play for us in my hand.

“If the clearance comes through, we will put him in the squad. He was with us for training just before we left for Poland and I made it clear to him then that, if he did want to play for England, I would include him in this squad, and I intend to keep that promise.”

 

Gooners Wrong to Criticise Wenger – Jol

Fulham manager Martin Jol believes that Arsenal fans are wrong to get angry at Arsene Wenger for his team’s failure to compete with their rich rivals.

Jol, who managed Tottenham from 2004-07, feels the Gooners should be thankful to Wenger for the job he has done and that they will miss him once he finally decides to leave them.

Ahead of Arsenal’s league clash with the Cottagers, Jol said: “If you look at the likes of Man City with almost half a billion spent, Man United, it’s not easy nowadays. Can you expect a team like Arsenal to win things, with Chelsea, Man City, Man United, all these clubs?

“I don’t think you have to be angry. Frustrated is probably the better word. Angry with Wenger? Wenger created the new Arsenal, almost. Maybe in three years’ time, they will hope and pray to get someone like Wenger.”

The Dutchman further added: “I’m not an Arsenal fan – as you well know – but I always admired Wenger for what he did. There is not one other team in the top four doing the same thing with the same philosophy. They always manage to find the players who are younger and create value on the pitch. Of course, it’s probably not what an Arsenal fan wants. Seven years? That’s a long time.”

 

Wenger Makes Peace with Hodgson over Wilshere Recall

Arsene Wenger has made his peace over Jack Wilshere’s England call-up after previously discouraging Roy Hodgson from doing so on multiple occasions.

The Arsenal playmaker has been included in the Three Lions squad for their upcoming friendly against Sweden despite the fact that he returned to action just last month following a 17-month-long injury layoff. Wenger wanted Wilshere to be overlooked for international duty but after Hodgson told him that the 20-year-old will only play a brief part in the match, the Gunners boss has mellowed his stance over the subject.

Wenger said: “You know what I think with Jack, that it is early for him. I had Roy Hodgson on the phone, we found a good understanding and a good compromise. What helps is that he is not playing over the weekend because he is suspended, of course. He will have a little breather. Roy wants him in the group to connect the game with the players.

“The ideal solution would be yes [he wouldn’t be involved]. But it is as it is. Jack has played three games now, and of the three games only one has been a full game. He has been out for 17 months. It is good to have a little break after three games. What we like of him is he won’t play over the weekend, so will recover. I think he needs 10 days of good recovery.”

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