Arsene Wenger has revealed he was close to making a move for Owen Hargreaves in the summer but chose to put his faith in his Arsenal rookies instead reports talkSPORT.

The former Manchester United midfielder was released from Old Trafford at the end of his contract last summer, and made the controversial move to the Citizens.

After scoring a stunning goal on his debut for Roberto Mancini's side in the Carling Cup clash with Birmingham, Hargreaves has already endeared himself to City fans - and the 30-year-old is set to return to the starting line-up to face the Gunners in tomorrow's Carling Cup quarter-final clash at the Emirates Stadium.

"It's hard to miss years through injury," said a sympathetic Wenger. "When they come back it shows great mental strength and Owen Hargreaves has that.

"He was a regular in the England national team and now for years he has not played at all. Everybody is happy to see him back."

The summer sale of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas left a large void in the Arsenal midfield, and Wenger admits he had considered offering Hargreaves a short-term deal.

"When he played at Bayern Munich we followed him very closely but it was a big transfer," he continued. "I think he was sold to Manchester United for £17million at the time and he only had one year left on his contract.

"So we didn't move in for him at that time. In the summer, you consider it but we had players like Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin coming back [to Arsenal] - Alex Song and Abou Diaby in these defensive positions where we were not really in need."

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