Eduardo nears Arsenal return

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger believes it will not be long before Arsenal see striker Eduardo back in action.

The Brazilian-born Croatia striker suffered an horrific broken leg following an X-rated challenge from Martin Taylor at Birmingham in February.

However, the 25-year-old is now closing in on a return to competitive action with the Gunners.

Wenger confirmed: "As soon as possible, he will play now.

"He is joining in full training matches, but he needs games now."

Tomorrow's home clash with Wigan will come too soon for Eduardo, and deposed captain William Gallas is also set to miss out because of a calf injury.

However, Wenger hopes to have defender Kolo Toure back from a similar problem while Emmanuel Eboue may return after a knee injury.

"We certainly lose Gallas for Saturday, but we have Mikael Silvestre, who will be available," said the Arsenal manager.

"We have Kolo Toure available again and he is more suited to playing on the right side [of central defence]. We will see until Saturday how well he is."

The Gunners kick-started their campaign last weekend with a 2-1 victory over Chelsea after coming from behind at Stamford Bridge.

Although still some eight points adrift of leaders Liverpool - who must come to Emirates Stadium on December 21 - it was a second win over their direct rivals, having also seen off Manchester United last month.

It marked the end of a troubled spell both on and off the pitch for Arsene Wenger's men, now led by new skipper Cesc Fabregas after Gallas was stripped of the captaincy for airing his controversial views in public.

Arsenal's youngsters were knocked out of the Carling Cup at Coca-Cola Championship side Burnley in midweek, and Wenger will recall his first-team regulars for tomorrow's Premier League clash.

The Latics were beaten 3-0 at Emirates Stadium in the last round of the cup, but nevertheless will present another test of the Gunners' title credentials.

Successive league defeats followed the win over United, and defender Gael Clichy knows there can be no more mistakes - with the likes of Hull, Stoke, Fulham and Manchester City having all beaten Arsenal this season.

"Now we cannot afford to drop any more points and must really go for it," he said.

"We have to play against these sides with a great desire, because they are going to want to beat the big teams and will give everything."

Meanwhile, new captain Fabregas has once again re-affirmed his commitment to the Gunners following reports of a possible move to Italian giants AC Milan.

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