Bendtner back on Arsenal bench for Stoke clash

The Denmark striker has been out on loan at Sunderland and Juventus for the past two seasons but has now worked his way back into contention at the Emirates Stadium

By Wayne Veysey | UK Correspondent

Nicklas Bendtner will return from the football wilderness on Sunday after being surprisingly included in the Arsenal squad to play Stoke City.

The Denmark international, who has not played for the Gunners since August 2011, is set to be named on the substitutes’ bench for the lunchtime Premier League clash.

Bendtner will be joined on the bench by fit-again Mikel Arteta, who has recovered from a thigh injury to be included in the 18-man match day squad for the first time this season, and new goalkeeper signing Emiliano Viviano, who is yet to feature for Arsenal.

Bendtner has been fast-tracked into the squad by Arsene Wenger after returning to full training on Saturday on the back of an intensive fitness regime in Copenhagen.

He had missed most of pre-season after being given permission to find a new club but a combination of Arsenal’s failed attempts to sign a new striker and Bendtner’s reluctance to take a drop in his £52,000-a-week wages have led to him being welcomed back into the fold following underwhelming loan spells at Sunderland and Juventus.

Bendtner will provide senior back-up to spearhead Olivier Giroud, who has started all seven of Arsenal’s Premier League and Champions League games this season, scoring five goals, and will lead the line once again against Stoke.

With Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski out with long-term injuries, Wenger has little option than to stick with most of the team that won in Marseille in midweek.

But the return of Arteta will give the manager more midfield options, with the experienced Spaniard earmarked to start the Capital One Cup clash against West Brom next Wednesday.

Bendtner and Viviano, who is on a season-long loan from Palermo, are also in line to start at the Hawthorns as Wenger plans to ring the changes.

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