Lauren out until New Year
By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Lauren's long-awaited Arsenal return has been put back until January.
Arsenal are likely to be without right-back Lauren until the New Year, according to Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
The former Cameroon international last appeared for the North London club in January in a Carling Cup clash against Wigan, with a serious knee injury rendering him unavailable ever since.
Now the 29-year-old is expected to complete a full year in the treatment room as he continues to battle back from the serious blow, with Wenger admitting he is not expecting to see the experienced defender back in action in 2006.
The French boss also revealed his fears that the decision to originally play through the pain barrier may have exacerbated the injury to Lauren's knee.
"I don't think you will see Lauren in the team before January," said Arsene Wenger.
"He played up to the limit of his pain and then maybe he played a little too long.
"That created some damage in his knee which had to be repaired.
"But he is a tough, tough boy. He works hard and he will come back.
"He is making good progress but he still has four or five weeks before he comes back to normal training and then it will take a month's full training to come back into the team".
Ivory Coast international Emmanuel Eboue has taken full advantage of Lauren's ongoing absence to stake a strong claim for the right-back position at Emirates Stadium, with his impressive progression recognised by a nomination for the Uefa Club Defender of the Year award.
Whilst Eboue is also currently injured after suffering medial ligament damage he is expected to develop a healthy rivalry with his fellow African and Wenger says he now has no preference between the two.
"There is no first-choice right back," added Wenger.
"The first-choice right back is the one who plays in the next game.
"This team now is not dependant on one player in any position on the pitch. Everybody has tough competition to stay in the side."