Tuesday 24 October 2017

Vermaelen could make return from long-term injury in Carling Cup clash

THOMAS Vermaelen could return from a two-month injury layoff in Arsenal's Carling Cup clash with Bolton tonight.

The Belgium international has been out with an Achilles injury but Press Association Sport understands he could feature at the Emirates Stadium this evening, although it is more likely to be as a substitute having only just returned to training.

Vermaelen's potential return is a welcome boost for Arsene Wenger, who admits he is spurred on by the Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham earlier this year.

"It will hurt me forever because we never forget disappointments," he said.

"That's part of life at a managerial level, you do not only have successes but disappointments too.

"People forget that we did fight very hard to get there and overall we produced great performances in the Carling Cup last year. That's very important as well.

"There is hunger in this team no matter what competition.

"We want to do well in the Carling Cup, the championship, the Champions League, in every single competition.

"I don't question the hunger of my team, they have an exceptional attitude.

"You can see now at the Emirates that our fans are behind the team because the attitude of the players is right."

With one eye on Saturday's derby at Chelsea, Wenger is likely to rest the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Robin van Persie.

Fringe players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Francis Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong and Park Chu-Young are likely to feature as a result.

The latter has yet to show his true worth in north London since his summer arrival from Monaco but Wenger is confident he can adapt to English football in the same way that some of his former players did.

"Some players like (Robert) Pires and (Thierry) Henry took four, five, six months and they became exceptional players," he said.

"Park arrived two months ago so that's normal.

"Some people judged our players very quickly in a negative way and slowly they changed their mind through their performances.

"I prefer it that way round than the other.

"Some players make you jump off your seat in the early stages and then disappoint you after.

"These players will win over all the sceptical people and Park is one of them.

"It is hard in the Premier League but Park is a player with quality and intelligence.

"In the longer term that will always come out and I am confident he will do that in the Premier League as well."

Press Association

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