Defensive boost for Arsenal

PA Sport
Carl Jenkinson
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Carl Jenkinson

Arsenal's defensive ranks could be boosted by the return of Carl Jenkinson for this weekend's north London derby against Tottenham.

Jenkinson has not played for the Gunners since November 5 after suffering a stress fracture in his back.

The 20-year-old, who has made 11 appearances since signing from Charlton last summer, made a successful 45-minute comeback in Arsenal's reserve win over Norwich last night and could come in to consideration for Sunday's game at the Emirates Stadium.

Reserve team coach Neil Banfield said Jenkinson's return was "nice to see". While the versatile defender would not be assured of a place in Arsene Wenger's starting XI, his availability would be welcomed given that the under-fire Gunners boss has a number of injury concerns at the back.

Per Mertesacker is out with a long-term ankle injury, Laurent Koscielny missed last weekend's defeat at Sunderland, while Sebastien Squillaci and Francis Coquelin both hobbled off at the Stadium of Light and will miss Sunday's game.

Wenger only has two other fit centre-halves - Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou.

Another player forced off on Wearside, Aaron Ramsey, is also doubtful for the game against the club's bitter rivals, who sit 10 points ahead of Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League.

Wenger, who is under pressure after seeing his team crash out of the FA Cup and almost certainly exit the Champions League after a 4-0 first leg hammering at AC Milan, is hoping to have striker Marouane Chamakh available after he returned from the African Nations Cup this week.

The striker suffered a toe injury while at the tournament and had to come off in the first half of Arsenal's reserve win at Carrow Road last night but is expected to be available to face Spurs.

"Marouane had a bad toe coming into this one. To be fair to him he wanted to give it a go but he could only last for half an hour and he had to come off," Banfield told Arsenal.com. "Marouane will be all right, it is just a bad toe I think at the moment."

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