By Rob Kelly

Thomas Vermaelen has praised the impact Thierry Henry has made in the dressing room during his second spell at the Club.

The French striker is due to return to New York Red Bulls on Thursday after completing a highly-successful loan spell with the Gunners.

Henry has scored three goals in six appearances but Vermaelen insists he has been just as effective off the pitch as on it.

“He has a big influence on the players. He is a leader: he talks a lot in the dressing room,” the Belgian said.

“He has a lot of experience and because we have a lot of young players and he has that experience, he talks to them a lot.”

Arsène Wenger is disappointed to see Henry leave, but says it is only fair to the Red Bulls to allow the striker to return in good time for the new MLS season.

“We wanted to keep him for two weeks longer but it wasn’t possible,” he said. “Thierry is captain of their team and they start the championship in two weeks.

“It is difficult for a player to come the day before the championship starts when he is captain of the club and has not played at all with the team in pre-season.

"I believe that it was just common sense. I am OK with that because I accepted that agreement at the start.”

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14 Feb 2012