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Wenger to make call on Henry's return to Arsenal over next seven days

Arsene Wenger has set himself a seven-day deadline for deciding whether to ask Thierry Henry, Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer, to return to the club on loan until the beginning of March.

Arsenal will lose Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho next month to the African Cup of Nations, with Wenger mindful both of his limited options in attack and the danger of placing an excessive burden on Robin van Persie.

Henry (below) has been on holiday this week but trained with Arsenal earlier in the month and was sufficiently impressive for Wenger to regard it as a realistic option. The Major League Soccer season doesn't resume until March 10 but Henry is due back for pre-season training at the New York Red Bulls on January 16.

Wenger laughed yesterday as he denied, unconvincingly, having directly discussed the situation with Henry. The concern for Henry (34) would be whether there is anything to be gained personally from going back and potentially altering his legacy.

With Arsenal not playing Wolves until December 27 because of the Tube drivers' strike on St Stephen's Day, Wenger will give the situation some serious thought over the next 48 hours. "January 1 is the vital date for us," he said. "We have seven days to make decisions on players."

The other big issue for Wenger is whether he brings in an emergency loan as cover for Kieran Gibbs and Andre Santos at left-back. It was confirmed yesterday that Gibbs has had surgery on his groin and will be out for another month, while Santos is sidelined until March with an ankle ligament injury.

Both right-backs, Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson, are also unavailable, though the Frenchman is recovering well from the broken leg sustained in October. He trained away from the first team yesterday and Wenger said: "The end of January is a reasonable target."

The setback to Gibbs is a particularly big blow in the context of all his recent injuries. An obvious loan option now is Wayne Bridge, who is yet to play in the Premier League this season for Man City.

Johan Djourou, meanwhile, has what Wenger calls "a little chance" of returning against Wolves. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent