Arsène Wenger will welcome back "an exceptional human being" into his squad tonight at Liverpool.

The Carling Cup Quarter-Final will see the return of Lauren after 11 months out with a knee injury.

Ironically the 29-year-old's last game was the Semi-Final second leg of the same competition on January 24. After the 2-1 victory over Wigan he finally succumbed to wear and tear on his knee and underwent an operation the following month. His recuperation has been long, arduous and, at times, threatened his career.

Lauren is set for a place on the bench this evening but you could forgive this hard, proud man for displaying uncharacteristic emotion if the fourth official raises the No 12 at Anfield and he trots on. For so long it seemed that the Cameroon defender was having the luck associated with one digit higher.

"It is nice just to have him back," said Wenger. "If you think what Lauren has gone through recently, the strength of character this guy has shown is amazing. And when you are at a big club that is the first quality that you need.

"There was a question mark about [his future] I must honestly say. But his desire, his strength and the way he practiced and worked so hard during his rehabilitation was top, top class. But I am not surprised. I know him and I brought him here. Lauren is an exceptional human being. That is why he came back

"It is great to have such an experienced player and such a winner with us again. When you have him in the side then you always have a chance."

11/1 - Liverpool v Arsenal: Arsenal to win 2-1 in 90 minutes

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19 Dec 2006