By Giuseppe Muro

While Jens Lehmann may have been the name on everyone’s lips, Tuesday’s Reserve game at Wigan was also a poignant afternoon for Jérémie Aliadière.

The former Arsenal youth team player, who is training with Arsène Wenger’s squad while looking for a new club, completed 79 minutes as he made his first outing in red and white since the final day of the 2006/07 season.

Aliadière endured a thankless first half after Ignasi Miquel’s early sending off left him to tirelessly lead the line with little reward. But, despite receiving treatment for a dislocated finger midway through the second period, the Frenchman imposed himself on the game as it progressed.

While the result may have been the wrong one, Aliadière admits it was a special feeling to don the famous red jersey again.

“It was great to have an Arsenal shirt back on,” he told “As soon as I put the tracksuit on in the morning it felt good and I am really happy to be back.

“I was nervous before the game because I haven’t played for eight months so I was nervous that I came back without getting another injury.

“I came through the game OK. It was difficult because I haven’t played for so long but I started feeling sharper in the second half and was getting into the game a bit more.

“Playing with ten men against 11 is never easy so it was a bit hard. But I am happy to be back playing so that doesn’t matter for me.”

Aliadière caught the eye with some stellar performances during his time in the youth ranks. So, after seeing the current crop at close quarters, what does he make of the new generation of Arsenal youngsters?

“They are really good players,” he said. “I see them everyday in training and they have got really promising young players.

“Hopefully I can be back playing [with them] next week and then get back into my best shape. I have been training for a month now and I am feeling better and better.”

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30 Mar 2011