By Richard Clarke
Whenever Arsenal play Blackburn, Arsène Wenger spends a large proportion of his pre-match press conference talking about David Bentley - and he is perfectly happy about it.
The Frenchman allowed the talented home-grown midfielder to leave permanently just two years ago. Since then he has gone on to become one of the most exciting young talents in the Premier League.
The 23-year-old made his first start for England last week, thus equalling the number he achieved at Arsenal if you leave out Carling Cup appearances. Despite that, and his subsequent success, Wenger is perfectly content to be questioned over the wisdom of letting him go.
"Bentley is having a good development in his career and I am very happy for him," said the manager ahead of the weekend.
"I let him go at a moment where I could have said 'no, you stay here', but I was also conscious there were big players in front of him and he was not experienced enough. You have to consider if it is fair to them not to let them go, even if it hurts you later.
"I knew there would be some stage where people said
'why did you let him go?'. But, when I make that kind of
decision, I am then happy someone asks me this question later
because it means he has been a success elsewhere.
"Of course, it can come back to haunt you and Bentley is a great player now. I don't know whether he would play here now and whether he would be a regular or not. But he has the quality.
"It is sometimes difficult to let a player go when you know it is just a question of timing. But at the end of the day, you cannot keep everybody. You would end up with 45 players and nobody would play."