Wenger refuses to rule out Fulham raid

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Arsene Wenger has refused to rule out a move for promising Fulham defender Chris Smalling - but maintains there has as yet been no approach for the England Under-21 international.

Cottagers boss Roy Hodgson insisted on Thursday he would be the first to know were Wenger - linked with Brede Hangeland in the last transfer window - set to step up any interest in the 20-year-old, whom Fulham plucked from non-League Maidstone and is now rated at around £7million.

"He is a player we know, yes, but there is no truth in it at the moment," Wenger said. "Maybe in the future. At the moment is at the moment. I never rule anything out. I never speak about transfers."

He added: "It is very interesting to make headlines, but the most important thing is that we inform the press when things are done.

"If the press knows every moment about every single transfer, I do not think that is right."

With striker Nicklas Bendtner coming close to a first-team return, perhaps in time for the visit of Manchester United next weekend, Wenger hinted he may now not move to bolster the squad with another forward.

"At the moment we are not on the verge of signing anybody," said Wenger, set to be without injured Holland international Robin van Persie until April.

"It is very difficult in January to find players who are available for the Champions League, who are just good enough to play for Arsenal and at the right price.

"You never know, but at the moment it (to sign a striker) is unlikely."

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Chris Smalling
Premier League

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