By Richard Clarke
Jens Lehmann is not on his way out of Arsenal Football Club, according to Arsène Wenger.

The German keeper is sidelined with an Achilles injury at the moment and will miss tonight's Champions League tie with Sparta Prague at Emirates Stadium.  The media have seized on the story as Lehmann has made a couple of errors this season against Fulham and Blackburn. There have been reports that the 37-year-old has rowed with Wenger and now wants to leave Arsenal.

Speaking to the media on the eve of the game, the  manager dismissed such suggestions out of hand.
"Jens is never happy when he is injured and he is never happy when he is not playing," said Wenger.

"Some people think [the worst] no matter what happens but I know what is happening. He is not on his way out of the Club. I had a meeting with him on Friday and he is not capable to play at the moment."
Wenger was asked whether Lehmann would be guaranteed to come back into the side when he returned to fitness. The Frenchman replied: "There are no guarantees for anybody."

However the Arsenal manager made it clear this did not mean Lehmann had fallen in his estimations this season.

"This has all been brought up by the newspapers," he said. "You always go from game to game. I have the highest respect for Jens. I brought him here when he was 33 or 34 and made him our No 1. Since then he has always been No 1.

"Jens is a strong man, mentally very strong. I don't think he would have been diminished by a couple of mistakes.

"But saying 'Jens will be first choice when he gets back' is asking me to say that, no matter how well Almunia plays, he will be automatically dropped. You can never say that to a player because it means his performance is not important.

"It is the start of the season and we have lost our No 1 but now the No 2 has come in and we have to give him a chance. But you make choices like this when everyone is fit and Almunia is good enough to give me a selection problem."

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Richard Clarke 29 Aug 2007