Ljungberg's World Cup target

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The Independent Online

The Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is looking forward to playing for Sweden in next year's World Cup after denying reports that he is considering retiring from international football.

The Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is looking forward to playing for Sweden in next year's World Cup after denying reports that he is considering retiring from international football.

The Swedish forward, 28 next month, scored twice against Bulgaria in a World Cup qualifier at the weekend and afterwards was quoted as saying: "A decision to quit the Swedish team would allow me to focus more on playing well in my club side."

But yesterday he insisted: "That is not my intention." He explained: "In the Swedish press conference I was asked about my international career and I clearly said that although some players retire early from their international sides to focus on their club football, that is not my intention.

"I have never said I wanted to quit playing for Sweden. On the contrary I think we had a great game on Saturday and I am very much looking forward to World Cup 2006."

Ljungberg's Highbury team-mate, Thierry Henry, is set to return for France away to Israel tonight as the coach, Raymond Domenech, tries to put his side's qualifying campaign back on track.

Henry has missed Arsenal's last two games with a calf injury and Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Switzerland - which resulted in the French side's third successive goalless draw at the Stade de France.

Domenech said: "Thierry was too short [of fitness] for the Switzerland match, but I am hoping he will be available on Wednesday. For a good result it would be a boost to have him with us in Tel Aviv."

The return would also be good news for the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, who hopes to have Henry available for Saturday's home Premiership match with Norwich City.

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