Wenger cagey as Lehmann returns to Arsenal line-up

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The Independent Online

Jens Lehmann, out of the Arsenal team for almost four months, will make his return between the posts in tonight's Champions League match against Steaua Bucharest. The 38-year-old German, whose last appearance, on 19 August against Blackburn, was marked by a second high-profile error since the season began, was pre-selected for this match by Arsne Wenger although the Arsenal manager was less than certain about the keeper's longer-term prospects at the Emirates.

"This was decided three weeks ago so it is independent of anything else," Wenger said on the eve of a match where victory will confirm his team at the top of Group H. "Jens' long-term future depends on, when you are 38, what you call a long-term future, we haven't spoken about that. At the moment I expect him to play well tomorrow."

When asked, however, if he expected the player whom he described as "super professional" to remain at Arsenal for the second half of the season, Wenger added: "I cannot guarantee [that], like for anybody else."

It appears more than likely that first-choice keeper Manuel Almunia will return for Sunday's match against Chelsea along with a number of other first choices who are likely to be rested tonight.

"We have lost a game and know we have not been good, so now of course we want to respond," Wenger said. "However, our quality is what we have done in the last six months, not in just one game. We know only our own performance is important and not what people say, even more so in the bigger games.

"My squad is very determined and very strong. If you had listened to what people said before the season, we would be 10th or 12th in the league and be out of everything. At the moment we are in everything. It is not a coincidence it is down to the mental strength of my team."

Wenger indicated he will make some changes with Nicklas Bendtner set to lead the attack.

He said: "I will rest some players, but I will play a team who is part of my squad. However, there is no Carling Cup side any more. I had one before, but now I feel they are a bit older and all these players have moved upwards now to the first-team squad."

Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby are also set to return to the team.

Arsenal (probable, 4-4-2): Lehmann; Hoyte, Gallas, Senderos, Traore; Walcott, Gilberto, Denilson, Diaby; Eduardo, Bendtner.

Steaua Bucharest (probable): Zapata, Emeghara, Goian, Rada, Nesu, Neaga, Petre, Lovin, Crisocea, Dica, Badea.

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