Wenger hopes Diaby recovers soon

Arsene Wenger is keeping his fingers crossed Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby will be back in action sooner rather than later.

The 24-year-old has been sidelined since October 16 with a niggling ankle problem after failing to fully recover from the effects of a crunching challenge by Bolton defender Paul Robinson the previous month.

Wenger had feared the France international, who had been in good form, would be set for an extended spell on the sidelines. However, the prognosis is now perhaps more positive.

"Diaby is having a gradual test. He had the first on Wednesday - that was positive," revealed the Arsenal manager.

"He has another on Thursday, so we will see what comes out of it. At the moment the response is good."

Arsenal got their Barclays Premier League campaign back on track with a hard-earned 2-0 win at Wolves in midweek.

Wenger revealed there were no fresh injury concerns ahead of Sunday's trip to Everton, where England full-back Kieran Gibbs could be involved after a knee problem.

"We should not have any bad news from Wednesday night. The squad should be the same," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.

"We could have Gibbs available to be part of it again too. We will make the decision at the end of the week.

"He is back in normal training. It is just whether he is fit or not."

Wenger hinted he could look to freshen up Arsenal's starting XI, given the amount of games his squad have played recently in both domestic and European competition.

"There are always one or two changes," he said. "Some players have played a lot and we have some fresh, quality players on the bench.

"Some are not completely match-fit like [Robin] van Persie and [Nicklas] Bendtner, but in midfield there may be one or two changes."

Arsenal are short in the centre of defence with Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles) and Laurent Koscielny (suspension) both unavailable.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is closing in on a return to full fitness after an elbow problem, but could have his path blocked by Lukasz Fabianski, who produced another impressive display at Molineux.

Youngster Wojciech Szczesny, meanwhile, has signed a new long-term contract.

The 20-year old has been with the Gunners since August 2007, and spent last season on loan at League One side Brentford.

Szczesny - whose old deal expired in the summer - had suggested he could look elsewhere for first-team football, but the 6ft 5in Pole has now committed his future to Arsenal.

The Arsenal number three impressed in the recent 4-0 Carling Cup win at Newcastle and Wenger believes the 20-year-old is a great prospect.

"We are delighted to secure the long-term future of Wojciech, who we regard as a very important part of our club's future," the Arsenal manager said.

"We have all seen his huge potential, both in training and in the matches that he has played for us, so we look forward to seeing him develop further in the coming years."

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