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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 15, 2006

Djourou determined to stake Arsenal claim

Young Arsenal defender Johan Djourou intends to make the most of any first-team opportunities which come his way next season.

Fellow Swiss international Philippe Senderos is recovering from a shoulder injury and veteran Sol Campbell left to eventually join Portsmouth this summer.

Manager Arsene Wenger was prompted to turn to the 19-year-old to plug the gaps in the centre of defence alongside Kolo Toure during the recent 3-0 Champions League qualifying win over Dinamo Zagreb.

There remains the possibility the Gunners could yet land long-term target Curtis Davies from West Brom.

But Djourou is keeping his fingers crossed for more first-team experience when the new Barclays Premiership season kicks off at the weekend, having produced another solid display in Croatia after being selected ahead of the more experienced Pascal Cygan.

Djourou said: 'I really want to get as many games as I can - but now I will try to impress the Arsenal manager so he keeps me playing.

'I am a professional, so I want to play every game. [But] it is the manager's decision.

'I will be happy if I am on the bench. I will accept it because I am young and I know I have got time.'

Djourou, who was born in the Ivory Coast, made three appearances for Switzerland during the World Cup.

His Arsenal and international team-mate Senderos dislocated a shoulder during the match against South Korea in Hanover, when the centre-back also suffered a facial injury after head-butting Jin-Cheul Choi in the process of scoring.

Senderos hopes to be back in around five weeks, and accepts everyone must prove their worth to manager Wenger as the north-London club enter the post-Highbury era.

'Obviously Sol has left, but we do not know [who may come in] because the transfer market is not finished - and we have got other quality players at the club, so we all have to fight to get a place,' said centre-back Senderos.

'There is competition, but this is a bunch of good guys and we will fight for our places, so that is positive for the team.'

Arsenal head into the new campaign with the future of two players uncertain.

Full-back Ashley Cole, currently away on international duty with England, seems certain to leave during the transfer window, having not appeared on the official team photo for the new season.

Talks, however, over a potential move to Chelsea appear to be deadlocked, with the clubs millions apart in their valuation of the 25-year-old.

Winger Jose Antonio Reyes, meanwhile, is understood to be on the verge of completing a move back to his homeland with Real Madrid.

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