Wenger in Cole admission
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Arsene Wenger has admitted Ashley Cole was unsettled by recent off-field events.Arsene Wenger has revealed he is to recall Ashley Cole for Arsenal's trip to Blackburn on Saturday after admitting the England defender had been unsettled by the inquiry into his alleged tapping up by Chelsea.
Cole gave evidence to a Premier League investigation this week about his clandestine meeting with Blues duo Jose Mourinho and Peter Kenyon and appeared to have been affected by the whole affair as he was left out of last weekend's FA Cup win at Bolton.
Although a slight injury was given as the reason for his absence at The Reebok Stadium, Wenger has now conceded Cole was destabilised by the off-pitch events.
"Ashley is okay. He doesn't look troubled," Wenger stated.
"At some stage, I feel it did affect him but now he's over it as the hearing has taken place.
"We've had time to reflect on the situation and he looks to me like he is over it."
Wenger is also adamant that the left back will decide to commit his long-term future to the club despite the obvious interest from Chelsea.
"Will Ashley stay for many years to come? Yes. That's my wish and I believe it will happen," he continued.
"The whole problem came about because we felt he deserved a pay rise. I want it to be sorted and I think it will be, but I can't tell you that it is yet."
However, one player whose future at Highbury does not look so certain is winger Jose Antonio Reyes.
Speculation about the young Spaniard has been intense in recent weeks and his form has noticeably suffered as a consequence.
Reyes admitted in a hoax phone call on Spanish radio that he would relish the chance to return to his homeland and join Real but, in spite of this, Arsenal appeared determined to hold on to the 21-year-old who they signed from Sevilla last January for £17 million.
The Spain international has failed to rediscover his sparkling early season form and was particularly disappointing as Arsenal crashed out of the UEFA Champions League to Bayern Munich.
Wenger has now for the first time opened the door on a possible move to Real by challenging the Spanish titans to make an official approach if they are indeed interested.
"I am not so sure that Madrid want Reyes, but if that is the case they have to pick up the phone and call us," he stated.
The Frenchman went on to admit he was at a loss to explain Reyes' poor displays of late, although it seems likely his unhappiness off the pitch has been a key factor.
"I don't know why he played so badly against Bayern," he continued. "His form is not as good as we hoped.
"I spoke with him to ask him what had happened, but he said he did not know why he had played so badly."