By Richard Clarke

Despite the loss of Eduardo, Arsène Wenger intends to remain patient over the return of Robin van Persie.

The Croatian is out for the season after breaking his leg at Birmingham on Saturday. The Dutchman would be the perfect replacement but he has only figured in three games since last October and is currently sidelined with a thigh injury. Therefore, the Arsenal manager was being understandably cautious when he spoke to Arsenal TV Online on Thursday.

"We will not rush Robin van Persie back but the news is quite good," said Wenger. "It is very difficult to say [when he will be back in the side]. We go step by step. But he should come back into normal training, very, very quickly now.

"Maybe I am being a little over-cautious in my statements but I do not want to put any special pressure on him.

"But the fact that Eduardo is out is one more reason to [get him back]. Also he deserves that championship as well and that is another reason - to do it for him."

For the game at St Andrews, Arsenal's absentees list read: Alex Song (knee), Tomas Rosicky (hamstring), Abou Diaby (calf), Kolo Toure (knee) Johan Djourou (groin), Van Persie (thigh) and Emmanuel Eboue (suspended).

"It looks like you can take Diaby out of that list," replied Wenger when the roll-call was read out. "All of the other players are not back."

However both Ivorians may be back for Tuesday's trip to Milan.

"Eboue will be back from suspension then," said the Frenchman. "We don't know about Kolo. It looks a little bit early but you never know."

Arsenal TV Online subscribers can see the full video interview on Friday, in it Arsène discusses: the injury to Eduardo, estimates on his return, why he retracted his statements on Martin Taylor, Villa's strength this season, John Carew - Arsenal's nemesis, Gabriel Agbonlahor's improvement.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Richard Clarke 28 Feb 2008