Wenger: Starting Gallas was a mistake

LONDON - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has conceded it was a mistake to start William Gallas in the Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona after the defender was ruled out for the rest of the season with a recurrence of a calf injury.

France coach Raymond Domenech was quoted by British media on Saturday as telling members of the French Football Federation he was "livid" with the decision to play Gallas.

"It's outrageous and irresponsible to have played so early after the injury. He'd better be fit for the World Cup," Domenech was quoted as saying.

Domenech, who has warned his players that to make the World Cup squad they must be able to report fit for a training camp on May 18, was at the Emirates but he did not speak to fellow French manager Wenger after Wednesday's match, which ended 2-2.


Gallas had not been expected to be fit after missing eight games with a calf problem. He pulled up just before the break with a recurrence of the injury.

"It was a gamble which did not pay off and was a mistake," Wenger was quoted on Arsenal's website as telling a news conference on Friday. "I don't think it will cost him his World Cup.

"He declared himself fit and I had (good) reports from the rehabilitation centre where he worked for 10 days. He had four days training with the team too," added Wenger.

"Maybe we should have taken some more time but he was jumping, running up and down the stairs in France. He had very hard sessions.

"Gallas is 32, soon 33. You ask a player of that experience do you feel ready to play, have you worked hard enough, do you feel ready to go into this game -- when they say yes you have to believe them.

Wenger acknowledged playing for France was important but stressed the north London club's needs were paramount.

"The French national team is important but Arsenal are as well and he is paid by the club not the French national team. We have to use the players when they declare themselves fit."

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