Football: The Wright time

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IT WAS once famously "made for Wrighty" when Graham Taylor brought on Ian Wright in Poland to extend England's ill-fated World Cup qualifying campaign in 1993, and it could be again today.

Wright has recovered sufficiently from hamstring, cartilage and groin injuries to be considered for the Arsenal squad to play Everton today and though Christopher Wreh is likely to be preferred to start the game in the absence of the hamstrung Dennis Bergkamp, Wright seems certain to play a part as a substitute.

It was in September 1991 that Wright joined Arsenal, five months after their last title, and a goal, even an appearance, today as Arsenal seek the win that would secure them the championship, would represent a sentimental moment for him and the club's fans for whom he has been a hero in scoring a record 178 goals.

It could, indeed, be Wright's swansong. The Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger, may decide to let the 34-year-old Wright go this summer, possibly to join up with Terry Venables at his old club, Crystal Palace, if or when the former England coach takes over there.

"To have Wright ready for action on the day we miss Bergkamp is important," says Wenger. "Psychologically, it is important for the players to see him because everyone thinks he can come on at any time and score."

That could apply to his own team or Everton, in whom Wright could strike terror. In 10 matches against them, he has scored 12 goals.

Wenger, who has also to decide if his French midfielder Emmanuel Petit is fit enough after straining a groin, believes his team are as relaxed about today's game as he is. "If you feel the team is always trying to do their best, then this relaxes you," says Wenger. "And the team is relaxed, because our recent history must give us the belief that we can do it." Indeed, victory today would be Arsenal's 10th in succession.

Their captain, Tony Adams, adds: "If you are confident, playing with your heart and giving your all, what's nerves got to do with it?" In which case, Everton, staring down the gun barrel of relegation after yet another miserable season, could be very nervous indeed.