By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger is confident that Sol Campbell can keep Wayne Rooney under control if he lines up against Manchester United this weekend.

The 35-year-old is on standby in case Thomas Vermaelen does not shrug off a leg injury in time to face the champions at Emirates Stadium.

Campbell has impressed in his two first-team appearances since re-joining the club he left in May 2006 and Wenger believes the centre back has the ability and experience to nullify Rooney, arguably the Premier League’s in-form striker.

“He is ready if he has recovered well,” said the manager at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“I have to assess him today but normally he will play if Vermaelen doesn’t play.

“I think he can stop Rooney. He has experience and he likes the big games. He can turn up if needed and experience helps in these kind of games.

“But I believe more than focusing on one individual performance on our side, it is important to focus on a good team performance.”

Campbell and Rooney enjoyed some battle royals during the defender’s first spell as an Arsenal player with the former in his prime and the latter just starting his own glittering career. Few would have expected them to lock horns again in the Premier League – not even Wenger.

“That was certainly not expected from him [Campbell] a few months ago when he signed for Notts County,” said the Frenchman.

“That shows you how quick football can change and I believe that he has worked very hard. Credit to him, every day he was motivated to push himself and he is quite fit, he looks fit.”

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29 Jan 2010