Wenger hesitant over Cole return

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The Independent Online

The Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has said that he does not want to rush Ashley Cole back from injury. The England left-back has been out since injuring his thigh on his return from a broken foot in mid-January - which had been a first appearance after more than three months out.

While his team-mates were preparing for their Champions' League game in Madrid this week, Cole was playing for the reserves against Barnet.

Wenger knows the risks in bringing him back too early, and would rather Cole, 25, play for the second string next week against Tottenham than rush to be involved in tomorrow's Premiership trip to Blackburn.

"It is difficult to say when he will return," said Wenger. "I am a little bit cautious with him at the moment because he had a few setbacks. He responded to the [Barnet] game with a lot of fatigue because he has hardly played in over four months. The plan is to play him on Monday night and assess him after that."

Freddie Ljungberg will not be available after suffering a calf injury, though Dennis Bergkamp may return following a similar problem, while Emmanuel Adebayor gives Wenger another option in attack after being cup-tied for the Madrid game.

Theo Walcott could make his senior debut at some stage. Sol Campbell is still sidelined with an ankle problem. Both he and Cole are now unlikely to join England next week ahead of the Uruguay friendly.

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