Henry's withdrawal a big relief for Wenger

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The Independent Football

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, yesterday revealed his relief after striker Thierry Henry was finally withdrawn from the France squad making the 46-hour round trip for Sunday's friendly match in Australia.

Wenger waged a two-month battle with the French football federation and the world governing body, Fifa, over his worries about the tiredness of his players ahead of the north London derby at Tottenham a week on Saturday. After admitting defeat in the fight to prevent his four French internationals – Henry, Robert Pires, Sylvain Wiltord and Patrick Vieira – making the marathon journey, Henry ironically developed a swollen ankle.

The French football federation's Dr Jean-Marcel Ferret finally ruled Henry out of the Melbourne fixture, saying: "The real problem is the 10-hour jet-lag which we will experience on the way back from Australia."

Wenger told his club's website: "It's a relief. He has a badly swollen ankle from a kick received in a tackle against Charlton [on Sunday]. His ankle was hurt and not in a very good state."

Henry will now undergo extra physio work at the Gunners' London Colney training base, while his club and country team-mates Pires, Wiltord and Vieira make the long trek to the other side of the globe and back.

* The French federation has been fined 125,000 Swiss francs (£53,500) by Fifa for the pitch invasion that forced last month's friendly between France and Algeria to be abandoned.

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