By Rob Kelly

Arsène Wenger says that while he would love to extend Thierry Henry’s loan spell, the striker must return to New York Red Bulls on February 16.

Arsenal’s all-time record goalscorer has enjoyed a successful return to the Club, scoring twice in five appearances including the memorable winner against Leeds in the FA Cup third round.

But with the Red Bulls due to play their first game of the new Major League Soccer season on March 11, Henry must head back to the United States for pre-season training.

“There is clarification, it will be February 16 [when he returns]. The day after the game in Milan,” Wenger said.

“I would have loved him to stay for two more weeks but he has to go back. He is captain of the Red Bulls, so just to appear on the first day of the season would be unfair to them.

“We accepted at the start that we would release him on February 16 so we respect our word. He thinks as well that it would be too late [to remain for two more weeks].”

Wenger has been delighted with the “fantastic” impact Henry has made since his return to the Club, both on and off the pitch.

“He was happy to be here and all the players were happy to have him around,” he said.

“In training he looks better every week. He is now back to a fitness level comparable to all the other players. His movement in training makes me think it is a shame he does not play for the national team anymore.”

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10 Feb 2012