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South Africa

Sol Campbell back at Arsenal

Sol Campbell is training with former club Arsenal following his premature departure from Notts County but Arsene Wenger has stressed there is no chance of the defender rejoining the club on a permanent basis.

Campbell is currently unemployed having played just one game for County before terminating the five-year deal he signed when surprisingly joining the League Two side and their director of football, Sven Goran Eriksson, at the start of the season.

West Brom are reported to be keen on the 35-year-old but Campbell is prohibited from joining a new club until January having been registered with County when the transfer window closed.

Campbell is a firm favourite at Arsenal having won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups with the club but while Wenger is allowing the defender to maintain his fitness as he searches for a new side, a return to North London is not a possibility.

"We help him to be fit again," Wenger said. "When you are used to a team sport, it can be difficult to keep completely fit on your own. Sol asked me if he could come back here and have some fitness sessions. We help him out."

When pressed on whether Arsenal would consider formalising the arrangement by bringing Campbell back onto the pay roll, Wenger replied: "With us? No. We help him out to get fit."

Arsenal are currently preparing for a game against Birmingham on Saturday and Wenger will be without Gael Clichy due to an ankle injury, giving Kieran Gibbs the chance to impress after he caught the eye with some encouraging performances last season.

Fabio Capello has hinted that the left back has an outside chance of making his England squad for the World Cup finals and Wenger has challenged Gibbs to prove he deserves a regular place in the Arsenal side, and a seat on the plane to South Africa.

"It is a big season for Kieran," Wenger said. "I believe he has the quality to be the England left-back, and have said that for a long time.

"He is still very young. He has a lack of experience, but has the quality. For him now it is to consistently play. He will play games with Arsenal this year and will play tomorrow [Saturday]."

Saturday's game at Emirates Stadium is the first time Arsenal have faced Birmingham since February 2008 when Eduardo suffered his horrendous injury following a tackle from Martin Taylor and William Gallas staged a sit-down protest following a last-minute equaliser from the home side.

Eduardo has since recovered to reclaim his place in Wenger's first-team squad, although he is currently suffering from a thigh strain, while Taylor misses Saturday's game due to injury. On Saturday, Wenger insists his team will not be preoccupied with a difficult day that arguably cost them the Premier League title.

"It is a bad memory, but I do not go into the game tomorrow thinking it was there that it happened," Wenger said. "It was very unfortunate and was a big turning point in the season because many negative events happened on that day.

"We do not go into the game tomorrow thinking about taking revenge on that. We want to win the game tomorrow because it will strengthen our position in the league."


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