Wenger: Players can fulfil World Cup goals

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes a successful season with the Gunners can only help drive their World Cup hopefuls on to success in Brazil.

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Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and even full-back Carl Jenkinson are all in the mix to make Roy Hodgson's England squad for next summer's showpiece tournament.

France trio Bacary Sagna, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny - who could be banned for the start of the World Cup after his red card in the first-leg play-off against Ukraine - will also be hoping to make an impact in Brazil, along with Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen, Germans Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil, while Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal will both be determined to be in Spain's squad.

While always focused on putting the interests of Arsenal first, the French coach sees no reason why his players cannot fulfil all of their ambitions whether it be domestic, European or international in 2014.

"You do what is right for the club. If the players can do well at both levels that is even better," said Wenger, who maintains there is no issue with England's use of midfielder Wilshere in both the friendlies over the international break.

"I remember 1998, (Patrick) Vieira and (Emmanuel) Petit had an outstanding season here and they won the World Cup after (with France), so the positives of one go into the other."

The expectation of a nation may have been dampened by successive defeats for England at Wembley to Chile and Germany, but Wenger feels the Three Lions' chances should not be written off just yet.

"When England fly over there, you will not write on the plane 'you cannot win it'. They are not favourites, but it is a very open competition and to me it looks like once you are in the quarter-final, you cannot rule them out," he said.

"To get in there, that will certainly be the most difficult, but you have to wait a little bit for the draw and see what sort of group England will have. It is the same for France.

"The situation at the World Cup is that you have 32 teams and 13 are from Europe. That is a little bit unbalanced but it means as well that any team you face in Europe, you cannot predict who will win."

While Wenger was keen to play down any talk of a row with the Football Association, the Gunners boss remains acutely aware of the need to avoid burnout with Wilshere, who was ruled out of contention for both the 2012 European Championship finals campaign and representing Team GB at the London Olympics because of injury lay-offs.

"There is no problem between the FA and Arsenal Football Club. I don't know where that idea comes from because he was supposed to play," he said.

"He was available for England, they used him like they wanted and if he had played the two (full) games I would have been perfectly happy, there was no restriction there at all.

"We play 60 games per year and Jack will certainly have to be managed - unless his pains go completely, then he will be used when needed.

"If there is an alert on his ankles, we will of course take advice from the medical department and use him when he can really be used."

Wenger continued: "I have been told by the medical team that there is no concern in the long term. He is just still recovering from his inflammation."

Arsenal will have forward Walcott available again against his former club following a two-month injury absence when Barclays Premier League action resumes with the visit of Southampton on Saturday.

They will, however, be without suspended midfielder Mathieu Flamini against the Saints, who have surprised with their rise up the table this season.

Wenger has been impressed by the form of Mauricio Pochettino's well-drilled side.

"Southampton have conceded only five goals since the start of the season after 11 games - that is remarkable," he said.

"It shows you that there is a big challenge for us offensively to open that defence, but I am confident we can do that."

 



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