By Chris Harris

Speculation over Jens Lehmann's future grows louder as the transfer window edges closer, but Arsène Wenger insists the Germany No 1 is "200 per cent professional" and has plenty of time to win back his place in the Arsenal team.

Lehmann, who celebrated his 38th birthday on Saturday, is expected to remain on the bench for tonight's trip to Reading as Manuel Almunia keeps goal for the 10th successive Premier League game.

The German keeper finds himself in a similar predicament to Gilberto, who has been restricted to three league starts this season by his delayed return to pre-season training and the fine form of fellow midfielder Mathieu Flamini.

Lehmann and Gilberto have 69 years, 112 international caps, two Premier League medals and a World Cup medal between them but Wenger's hands are tied by the eternal problem for football managers - he can only pick 11 players to start a match. However, both men remain part of the Frenchman's plans.

"The difficulty of our job is to employ people on Monday and dismiss them on Friday," said Wenger. "Then on Monday you say 'listen we start again'.

"It is different to the Tour de France where you start with a team and try to bring as many as you can to the end. We start with a team and at the end half of them are out.

"I have tremendous respect for Gilberto as a man and Jens does not want any present. He wants to play because he is the best keeper. I would make it worse to put him in and out again.

"Almunia has been in the team and the team is doing well. It is as simple as that. But he [Lehmann] is up for the challenge because he is 200 per cent professional.

"If the situation is still like that in January then we will see [about Lehmann's future] but we are still in November. November and December is a long time to win your place back."

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Chris Harris 12 Nov 2007