Campbell ruled out of North London derby

April 20, 2006

Arsenal centre-back Sol Campbell has been ruled out of Saturday's north London derby clash against former club Tottenham.

The 31-year-old has failed to recover from surgery on the broken nose he received against Portsmouth last week.

He could, however, return for the Champions League semi-final second leg against Spanish side Villarreal next Tuesday.

'Sol is not back for Saturday but he should be involved for Tuesday,' said Wenger on Arsenal TV Online.

The Pompey clash was Campbell's first appearance since he was substituted at half-time during the 3-2 defeat to West Ham on February 1. Campbell immediately left Highbury and was given an extended leave of absence.

Injury delayed his comeback and then he required an operation on his nose after a clash with Svetoslav Todorov in the late stages against Pompey, a match that finished 1-1.

Campbell will have a maximum of six games to prove his fitness to England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson ahead of this summer's World Cup finals in Germany this summer.

Meanwhile, Ashley Cole will be out of action for a further two weeks despite making a midweek comeback for Arsenal's reserves following an ankle complaint, although Gael Clichy may be ready to return sooner from his foot injury.

Wenger explained: 'Gael Clichy looks ready but I don't know how much he is free pain-wise in his foot.

'Ashley looks completely free pain-wise but looks to be behind Gael fitness-wise. Let's give him two more weeks before he is completely ready to play.'

Arsenal could move to within a point of fourth-placed Spurs if they win at Highbury on Saturday, then they will defend a 1-0 lead against Villarreal at El Madrigal on Tuesday.

Despite a Champions League final being within sight, Wenger has not decided whether he will field a weakened team against Spurs to keep his players fresh for European action.

'Frankly it is a bit early,' the Frenchman added. 'I need a little bit more time to decide that but I will do it.

'We want to beat Tottenham and find the best way to make it to the Final. I need to think about the best way to achieve that.'