By Richard Clarke
The real Nicklas Bendtner is back, according to Arsène Wenger.
The Danish striker is not only fit for the first time this season and set to be named in the squad for Birmingham on Saturday but his manager believes he is back to his best shape since last November.
Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) and Manuel Almunia (elbow) are nearing returns while Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) and Bacary Sagna (thigh) are estimated as “ten days” away.
Robin van Persie (ankle) and Aaron Ramsey (leg) will not figure until next month. However, overall, Wenger’s mood was upbeat when he updated Arsenal TV Online on Thursday afternoon.
“We have some good news because for a while we've had only bad news,” he said. “Nicklas Bendtner is back in the squad and Kieran Gibbs is back too.
“Let’s not forget that since last November Nicklas has produced here and there but never had a consistent presence because of his injuries.
“Apart from the fact he went to the World Cup we have not seen the real Nicklas Bendtner for a long, long time. He is the closest he has been to his best for a while. He was really, really handicapped by groin problems but they have gone now.
“Theo might be involved on Saturday as well. He has normal training tomorrow. I might put him in the squad. I will see how he is but he looks very, very sharp. The only uncertainty is his ankle but he might be involved.
“Cesc is very, very short and unlikely to be involved [on Saturday]. He has a little chance for Tuesday.
“Sagna is ten days, Vermaelen is ten days, Almunia is a question of days but Van Persie looks to be a bit longer.”
TV Online subscribers can see the full interview on Friday morning. In it Wenger talks about:
- the fall-out from the Chelsea defeat
- Robert Pires training at Arsenal
- the lessons from losing to WBA last time at Emirates
- why Birmingham might approach it differently
- the return of Alexander Hleb
- his thoughts on the takeover saga at Liverpool