London - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Thursday that
he was crossing his fingers that in-form forward Alexis Sanchez will return
from international duty with Chile unscathed.
Sanchez is in stunning form, having followed up a fine brace
against Manchester United with three goals as Chile opened their 2018 World Cup
qualifying campaign with wins over Brazil and Peru.
He was not due to return to England until later on Thursday
and Wenger, whose side visit Watford in the Premier League on Saturday, hopes
the 26-year-old has not been overburdened by his international exertions.
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"I cannot do a lot about it," Wenger told his
weekly press conference.
"He came off as you have seen against Manchester United
with a hip problem, a problem with the rotator muscle, and he wanted to go
"He played in the last two games and we have to see how
he comes back, but it is always a tricky situation. Chile are trying to qualify
for the World Cup and he is an important player for them, but they will use him
if they can.
"Alexis is a guy that always wants to play so I knew
that was always going to be a tricky situation."
Wenger added: "Let's see what happens and how he comes
back. We have to see if we have to protect him in our next game or not."
Arsenal could be able to recall centre-back Laurent Koscielny,
who has been sidelined since the end of last month with a hamstring problem.
But England pair Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck are still
some way from full fitness after respectively undergoing leg and knee surgery.
"They are progressing well," Wenger said.
"Jack Wilshere is still one month away at least and Danny Welbeck at the
earliest will be back beginning of January."For
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