Belfast Telegraph

Szczesny in Gunners frame

By Mark Bryans

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has accepted an apology from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for smoking but has hit out at claims made by German striker Lukas Podolski after his move to Inter Milan.

Szczesny remains in contention for a return to the Arsenal side for tomorrow's visit of Stoke despite smoking a cigarette following the New Year's Day defeat at Southampton.

Wenger has spoken out against the habit in the past, but the Frenchman will still consider Szczesny, who was at fault for both the goals conceded at St Mary's, after he apologised.

"I haven't selected the first XI yet. I take everything into account,'' Wenger replied when asked if the 24-year-old would return to the team.

"I don't want to talk about that because what happens in our dressing room stays in our dressing room - apart from the fact that it doesn't stay in there.

"Of course (he has apologised). He made a mistake, he is not the first one or the last one."

Wenger moved to refute claims made by Podolski in yesterday's newspapers.

The German World Cup winner has completed a loan move to Inter and he accused the Arsenal boss of a "lack of respect" for not wishing the player well at the San Siro, a claim Wenger said holds no truth.

"I deny that," he said. "I had many conversations with him about going out on loan, and don't forget that he had my agreement and without my agreement, he would not be out on loan."

Wenger will have Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil back from injury for tomorrow's clash with Stoke, while Olivier Giroud will also be available having served his ban after his Boxing Day red card against QPR.

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