By Richard Clarke
Aaron Ramsey could return to the Arsenal squad for the crucial Premier League game with Sunderland on Saturday.
The Welsh midfielder has not played for the first-team since breaking his leg at Stoke just over a year ago. He was selected as a substitute for the Cup ties against Leeds and Ipswich in January but did not feature. However, since then, Ramsey has enjoyed a successful loan spell with Cardiff and now seems ready to play a full part as Arsenal bid for three trophies.
The inclusion of the 21-year-old may be the only change from the squad the manager had at his disposal in midweek against Leyton Orient. Wenger believes Laurent Koscielny (hamstring) has only a “meagre” chance of playing at the weekend even though the centre back should be OK for the trip to Barcelona on Tuesday.
Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) and Alex Song (knee) are definitely out this weekend and remain touch-and-go for Spain.
“There is a chance Aaron could be available in the squad for Saturday,” Wenger told Arsenal TV Online on Thursday. “It will be very good to have him back.
“He is getting better and better now. We know he has a great engine, has great passing ability and can score goals as well.
“We did not lose anyone last night. There is a meagre chance we could have Koscielny back for Sunderland. But he is the only one we can hope to have available.
“Koscielny has a good chance [for Barcelona] though. His hamstring is getting much better and he is not completely out for Sunderland yet.
“However Alex Song is out on Saturday and he is doubtful for Barcelona. At the moment he has not practiced at all. He has this knee problem that gets better everyday. But we’ll assess it on Monday.
“As for Cesc, we go day-by-day. We assessed him today and he is positive about his injury. We feel he has a chance. I do not want to disappoint people so I say he has ‘a chance’, I strongly believe that.”
TV Online subscribers can see the full interview later. In it, Wenger talks about:
- the massive week ahead
- getting the strikers back in form with Van Persie out
- Sunderland’s recent slide
- his mental ‘block’ about Sunderland
- putting the pressure on Man United
- the final sprint of the Premier League
- reaching the FA Cup Quarter-Finals
- getting the Carling Cup out of the system