Sol Campbell confirms plans for Arsenal return
Sol Campbell has confirmed to ESPN Soccernet that he intends to re-sign for Arsenal until the end of the season.
Campbell, 35, is available on a free transfer after leaving League Two side Notts County in September and has been training with Arsenal in recent months.
He is now in talks over a deal with the club and played for the reserves in the 4-2 win at West Ham on Tuesday night, coming off at half-time with his side 2-0 up. It appears the match at Upton Park was a form of trial, with Wenger seemingly keen to ensure that Campbell can prove his fitness and also regain his match sharpness before committing to even a short-term contract until the end of the season.
Campbell expects to play a couple of reserve games before that decision is made and he told ESPN Soccernet ahead of his comeback: "I shall be playing in the reserves at Upton Park tonight - it must be two years since I last played there. I cannot wait. I cannot tell you how much I've missed playing after being out so long since leaving Notts County.
"I need to get minutes under my belt, a couple of reserve games at least, before I can start looking any further ahead. I hope to sign for Arsenal until the end of the season. There are still a few technicalities to iron out, but I want to sign for Arsenal until the end of the season, and it's fantastic, great, marvellous.
"The old enthusiasm is back. I've got to tell you it seems as though I have never been away. I'm ecstatic really to be back at Arsenal, and I have worked bloody hard to get there."
He added: "Arsene Wenger has been an inspiration. He has watched me closely after letting me train at Arsenal for nearly two months now. He's not stupid - he wouldn't have taken me back if he didn't like what he has seen, and I have worked and worked.
"I do believe I can contribute. I really have my confidence and fitness back and believe I can make a big, big contribution. There is fantastic quality all around the pitch within this Arsenal team and I want to be part of it, and will make a big push to try to do that, but it's little steps at a time. First step is at Upton Park; the next step is more football."
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp recently said that if Campbell returned to peak form and fitness, he could still be playing for England, but Campbell acknowledged that it is very early to be talking about a return to international duty in South Africa.
"First steps, first steps," he laughed. "It is just a pleasure to be back on the pitch, and pitch-time is what I need. I am going to enjoy it, really enjoy it. I've been out far too long, and I have worked hard to get back on the field. I've been training hard, working hard, and I now want to be involved."
Newcastle were among the clubs to have expressed an interest in signing Campbell, but he admits returning to a side with title ambitions will be a significant step-up.
"There have been a few clubs, quite a bit of speculation, but going back to Arsenal - well, that is serious, and I am serious about this," he said.
"I've missed it and I've a gut feeling this is the right move. It's no longer a hunger to get back - it's turned into a craving. I am champing at the bit. I'm fresh, I'm raring to go. It's unbelievable to be back at Arsenal."
Wenger admitted last week that he was considering bringing the defender back.
"He has a fantastic attitude and good fitness," Wenger said. "Of course he is not the youngest, but he is in a very good shape. He can still play in the Premier League - I've said that many times.
"He is important in the dressing room as well. He's positive with the young players. Every year we have one or two like that and I think a Premier League club will sign him."
A statement on Arsenal's official website on Tuesday read: "Tonight's reserve team to face West Ham United at Upton Park features Sol Campbell, who plays on a Reserve League registration, with a view to a permanent move back to Arsenal Football Club. Talks are ongoing with Sol with a view to a permanent move back to Arsenal Football Club."