Traditionally this is the time of year when the crocks go back. This latest international break should give an opportunity for some on our injury list to recover but others have to run the gauntlet. Whether those on international duty can come through unscathed will determine if we end up further forward by the time the league gets underway again on Saturday week.
We haven`t seen anything at all of Nicklas Bendtner this season but according to his web site this week he is back in training.
“Hurrah – have been training with the team today for the first time since summer! It is a great day – a day I have looked forward to for a long time. My groin is not hurting anymore. I have been training really really hard and think I`m in my best physical form ever. Now I have to shaping my handling of the ball and soon I will be ready to play matches again. Expect to start up by playing for the reserves”
Abou Diaby is with the French national team but won`t be fit in time for the upcoming game at the weekend against Romania. “Abou Diaby has not trained since Monday. The state of his ankle is reassuring, but the exams a little less so” said French team manager Laurent Blanc. “We will make a final decision tonight (Thursday) or tomorrow [regarding the game next Tuesday], but for Saturday, it will be too short.”
This is not a dissimilar situation to Bendtner`s ill advised expedition to South Africa for the World Cup when not fully fit. How on earth can it make sense to call up player not fully recovered from injury unless he is 100% fit? Even then knowing he isn`t fully fit why the need to keep him with the national team on the chance that he might be needed to play against international minnows Luxembourg? Part of the problem with national teams is that the level of many of the players for these sides, outside a limited number of the major nations, doesn’t allow them the skills to match the higher level of competition they can encounter. The risk is potentially greater against teams like Luxembourg than it might be against Spain for example. If national teams cannot be relied upon not to take the sort of chances with players that the Danes took with Bendtner and the French appear to be taking with Diaby then it is time that clubs were given far more say over whether players are to be released or not.
Rather more sensibly Spain has decided they can do without Cesc for the games against Lithuania and Scotland though he should be fit for us for the game against B`ham following the international lull. Had they used the same degree of common sense and didn`t, after the world cup, oblige him to fly half way around the world as the league season got underway for a meaningless friendly against Mexico then we might have seen more of him in club colours than we have so far this season. That`s certainly Arsene`s view as he suggested recently that Cesc`s hamstring injury was a direct consequence of a disrupted summer break.
Of others injured in the last interbreak Walcott could be back before the end of the month but less is known about the timing of Vermaelen`s return. Robin van Persie wasn`t injured on international duty because he wasn`t used in the last round of internationals. He misses this one too but his return to club duty is still not imminent.
We have a stronger squad overall than we have had for sometime but that depth doesn`t compensate enough for the key players that we have had out for key fixtures. The invincible season was founded on our ability to ensure our key players were mostly available most of the time. We`ll need that level of fortune now to meet our aspirations for this season but for the present we can hope that this international break is a little kinder to us than it has tended to be of late.
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