Campbell may face Juventus as World Cup prospects improve

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The Independent Online

Arsène Wenger believes Sol Campbell will be in the right condition to play for England in the World Cup, but he is not sure yet whether his central defender will be fit to face Juventus.

The first leg of Arsenal's Champions' League quarter-final against the Italian side is a week on Tuesday. This week, Campbell made his first reserve appearance since walking out of the club at the beginning of last month. That was during a home defeat against West Ham United, after which he picked up an injury.

Campbell will face Charlton in another reserve game on Monday, giving Wenger a much clearer idea of his form and fitness.

The Arsenal manager said: "He's much sharper now. He will have another game on Monday and then he will be close. He played better and better in his last reserve game. We looked for reassurance and then he was very good in the second half. He's been very good since he came back. He's been very focused and very relaxed.

"There's no worry about his motivation or his stress. Now he looks a good prospect for England in the World Cup.

"As for Juventus, I'm not as far as thinking about that. From next week he will be in contention again. He will play on Monday night and then he will be available. Sol was a rock at the back when we went 49 games unbeaten so when you have a couple of games at not such a good level you have to understand. It is important for him to compete at his best again and his best I believe is yet to come. He is motivated still to play for Arsenal and to play in the World Cup."

The manager opposing Wenger today will also be motivated. It is Charlton's Alan Curbishley, who has been sounded out by the Football Association as a possible successor to Sven Goran Eriksson as the England manager.

Wenger was positive about Curbishley's chances, citing his long service to Charlton and several seasons in the Premiership.

"Ideally the England manager would be an Englishman and Alan Curbishley is one of the candidates," he said. "It would be better if he had European experience but it would not put me off to take a guy like that. At least 10 years at the top level is enough experience.

"It's a job for experienced people because in the big tournaments the decision you make in the 65th minute is something to do. To make the right decision you need that experience and he has that experience."

Wenger gave cautious backing to Fifa's new attempts to stamp out racism from fans, with points deductions and relegation for clubs affected proposed.

He said: "The suggestion is right. You have to tackle it severely. First of all I would like to really know what is racist, because that's not easy. It's not only against black people. It's more complicated than that.

"So you have to say what is really racist to tackle it. I feel it is difficult to tackle a club 100 per cent because you cannot be responsible for 50,000 people if there are five silly people in there. It can happen."

He added: "To relegate the club for me is a real disproportion because you have to punish people when you catch them, and not let them back in."

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