By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger has ruled out using Samir Nasri in a defensive midfield role when Alex Song goes to the African Nations Cup in the New Year.

Last season, the Frenchman put himself forward as a surprise candidate for the position just in front of the back four. He was used there a number of times late in the campaign but, since then, Song has gone on to make the role virtually his personal property.

The 22-year-old will be absent throughout January as Cameroon try to regain their Continent’s top prize. However, speaking to before the international break, Wenger was not considering Nasri as a fill-in.

“No, [he is not a replacement],” said the manager. “I do not say that he could not, Samir is very tactically astute, but he is attracted forwards. He loves the offensive game.

“We have Denilson who can fill that role. He is more suited than Samir at the moment. Samir is more a player who has pace, is versatile around the box and can finish. It would be a sacrifice to put him down there. Also he has a little handicap in the air.

“He likes [that defensive role] and certainly, technically and tactically, he can do it but I believe he can be more efficient up front.”

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17 Nov 2009