Szczesny planning to return 'stronger than ever'

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Wojciech Szczesny insists he will return from injury "stronger than ever" as Arsene Wenger weighs up whether to place Arsenal's Barclays Premier League title hopes in the hands of veteran Jens Lehmann.

Young Poland goalkeeper Szczesny is expected to be sidelined for around six weeks with a finger problem which saw him replaced inside 20 minutes at the Nou Camp, where the Gunners saw their Champions League dreams ended by Barcelona.


"If you lose a game, you can pick yourself up - but when you are injured, you cannot just miraculously come back, you know it will take some time to get fit and you won't actually have a game for a few weeks, so that is the biggest challenge," Szczesny told the April edition of the official Arsenal magazine. "But I am confident I will get through it and come back stronger than ever."

It was an unexpected turn of events which would eventually lead to 41-year-old Lehmann answering an SOS from Wenger, who was left with Manuel Almunia as his only fit senior keeper.

While the Spaniard played well under a Barcelona onslaught, he was involved in a terrible mix-up with stand-in centre-back Sebastien Squillaci as West Brom took a 2-0 lead at The Hawthorns on Saturday, before Arsenal rallied to salvage a draw.

The inability to see off the relegation-battlers allowed Manchester United to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points, albeit having played a match more.

Wenger would not be drawn on whether he intended to dump Almunia when the Gunners return to domestic action at home to Blackburn on April 2 in favour of Lehmann, who was part of the Invincibles team of 2003/2004.

Should all go well with his recovery, Szczesny could well be in contention to face United in a crunch showdown at Emirates Stadium on May 1. The 20-year-old Pole revealed he is set for a testing spell watching from the sidelines.

Despite his involvement in the dramatic late defensive mix-up which gifted Birmingham the Carling Cup at Wembley, it has certainly been a breakthrough season for Szczesny.

After returning from a productive loan spell at Brentford, he agreed a new long-term contract in November and went on to make his Premier League debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

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Wojciech Szczesny

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