By Richard Clarke

Robin van Persie will return to the Netherlands in his bid to recover from a troublesome thigh injury.

The Dutch striker is having an unlucky season. A knee problem kept him sidelined from mid-October to mid-December. After a couple of games, he picked up his current injury. He returned for the Carling Cup Semi-Final against Tottenham 10 days ago but lasted only 45 minutes. Arsène Wenger now regrets recalling the 24-year-old so early and that is why, on this occasion, he'll be allowing Van Persie to take his time.

"He has played only eight Premier League games this season," said Wenger at Friday's pre-match press conference. "But we do not think this will be a long-term problem.

"Maybe we made a mistake to play him in the Carling Cup. We wanted to rush him a little bit back after the muscular problems and were not cautious enough.

"When a player has waited for so long and is ready to play you are under pressure a bit from him as well because he feels he can play. But at the end of the day, I do not feel we made the right decision to play him on the night."

Van Persie will spend the rest of the month back home and it is likely to be well into February before he'll be back on first team duty.

"Robin will be out for two to three weeks," said Wenger. "He is going to Holland as part of the treatment and rehabilitation.
"A football club is not a hospital. It is made for players who play, not for those who cannot play or are sick.

"It is very depressing for them to come in every day and see their partners going out and playing, when he cannot. Sometimes it is better to get them away for 10 days where they have a completely different environment. It makes them feel better."

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Richard Clarke 18 Jan 2008