Saturday, February 9, 2008

Kolo Toure Rested As Cote D'Ivoire Fall To Ghana

Kolo Toure may be rushed back from the African Cup of Nations in order to feature for Arsenal against Blackburn on Monday.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be missing defender Johan Djourou and may be without Philippe Senderos, leaving the Arsenal squad with only one fit central defender, captain William Gallas.

23 year-old fullback Justin Hoyte or Brazil captain Gilberto Silva have both been used as center-backs for Arsenal, but an inexperienced Hoyte and aging Gilberto would have difficulty chasing down dangerous Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz.

"I don't know," said Wenger when asked if Toure might feature on Monday. "Ivory Coast play on Saturday afternoon. I have not called him yet but I will try to see if he can take a flight from Accra to London. Otherwise it will be Gilberto, who is back, or Justin Hoyte at centre half."

Toure was a conspicuous absence in the Cote d'Ivoire starting XI as the Elephants fell to Ghana's Black Stars in the 3rd/4th place playoffs of the African Cup of Nations. After having recovered from injury, it seems as though the central defender may have been rested by Cote d'Ivoire manager Gerard Gili.

The Ivorian star's return would be a huge boost to a thinly stretched Arsenal side, and with no midweek games this week, Wenger might just be tempted to risk a fatigued Toure in order to stay at the top of the Premier League.