2006-02-08

Walcott and Campbell to help Arsenal

Sol Campbell is "focused" and "determined" to win back his place in the squad, and that is very good for Arsenal. At the same time, 16-year-old wonderkid Theo Walcott scoring on his debut.

Engilsh defender Campbell, 31, returned to training on Monday, following his leave of absence, and Wenger went out of his way to praise his experience and strength.

At the same time, Wenger's assistant Pat Rice and youth academy coach Liam Brady were watching Walcott pull on an Arsenal jersey for the first time in a reserve team match at Portsmouth.

And the club's £12 million signing from Southampton, who was wearing the No 7 shirt, did not disappoint with a stunning half-volleyed goal from 12 yards out after 75 minutes which levelled the scores at 2-2.

Arsenal FC went on to lose 3-2 in front of a crowd of 619 at West Leigh Park, home of the non-League side Havant & Waterlooville, but Rice and Brady will still have gone home happy with their teenage striker, who does not turn 17 until the middle of next month.

Of more immediate concern to Wenger, who was speaking at a Nike launch in London, was the well-being of his England defender.

He said: "He is determined to help the team as well as he can," said the Arsenal manager. "We need Sol's experience, his desire and strength and he is all right. He is back and focused."

Wenger also indicated Campbell can rejoin his team-mates in action in the Premiership match against Bolton at Highbury next Saturday.