Two years on, Nicklas Bendtner is ready for a return to Arsenal front line

Wenger’s January buying policy will depend on how the striker shapes up

Arsenal are prepared to welcome back Nicklas Bendtner for Wednesday’s Capital One Cup game at West Bromwich Albion. The unsettled striker, who has not played for Arsenal for more than two years, is finally regaining fitness and while he will not be ready for tomorrow’s home game against Stoke City – in which Olivier Giroud will lead the line yet again – he could well be involved in midweek.

Manager Arsène Wenger confirmed yesterday that Bendtner would be in training with the full squad in “two or three days” and that “he will be in the squad for sure” at The Hawthorns.

It has been a difficult summer for Bendtner. Arsenal were trying to find him a new club but no move could be agreed – his £52,000-a-week wages proving an obvious issue – but Wenger said the door was now open to him again.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for him,” Wenger said. “Everybody thought about strikers. Honestly, he was supposed to go, but he stayed and once he stays you have to consider him as a full player of the squad. If he deserves to play in front of Giroud, he plays in front of Giroud. That is as simple as that.”

Bendtner’s last appearance for Arsenal was the last 10 minutes of the defeat to Liverpool on 20 August 2011, after which he had loan spells at Sunderland and Juventus. His last start for the Gunners was in March of that year. But since it became clear that he was staying this summer, he has been getting back into shape first in Denmark and now at Arsenal, and he is nearly ready again.

While it might be a stretch to describe him as Arsenal’s Prodigal Son – he never turned down a move to Eintracht Frankfurt – there is something redemptive about his return to the fold, with Wenger saying he has finally seen the error of his ways.

“He lost his way a little bit, but he is not a bad boy,” Wenger insisted. “He is a good guy. He took the easy way a little bit but now he realises there are some [signals] in your career when players think that is the moment for them. He has got the message.”

Indeed, if Bendtner does well enough in the next few months, Arsenal may not need to sign a new striker in January. “I will wait now until December to see what we need in the squad,” Wenger said. “We spoke about Bendtner, [Yaya] Sanogo, Giroud. If the three do well, I am in no need to buy any striker. Sanogo is not fit but he has stature as well, we are building him up physically, he has good technical quality.”

For now, though, Giroud remains the only option. He has started all seven of Arsenal’s games so far, scoring five goals, and Wenger said: “He likes that. He is a positive guy.”

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