The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pires set for comeback

London: Arsenal fans could get their first glimpse of Robert Pires this season when the English double winners attempt to secure their place in the second phase of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is considering whether to give Pires, who has been out since March after undergoing knee surgery, a place on the substitutes’ bench for the first phase home game with Auxerre.

“Robert might be in the squad,” Wenger said. “It’s too early for him. He needs to play more games before that. He has basic fitness but lacks match sharpness and practice.

“He must feel ready, so he needs to be brought through reserve team games or first team games to get him there.”

Wenger will welcome the France international, who had such an impact on Arsenal’s fortunes last term, back into the fold, but he warned Pires he faces a fight to reclaim a regular first team place.

Arsenal have won three straight games in the Champions League first phase, against Borussia Dortmund, PSV Eindhoven and Auxerre (away).

Another victory at Highbury on Tuesday will confirm their passage to the second phase.

Wenger said he would probably take the opportunity to rest some of his frontline players .

Arsenal are hoping Dennis Bergkamp will pass a fitness test on his Achilles problem to play against Auxerre.

Meanwhile, Ruud van Nistelrooy will miss Manchester United’s Champions League match against Olympiakos on Wednesday as the Dutch striker’s hamstring problem continues to concern the Old Trafford club.

“He won’t play against Olympiakos,” United manager Alex Ferguson said.

“When you play with a tight hamstring it’s not easy. We want to solve the problem and get him back playing again all the time.”

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