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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 09:23 GMT
Wenger fumes over Brazil friendly
Arsenal's Gilberto Silva (right)
Silva (right) could fly to China with Brazil in February
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has reignited the club-versus-country row with a new attack over mid-season international friendlies.

Wenger is threatening not to release Brazilian midfielder Gilberto Silva for next month's international in China, which he branded as "nonsense".

In reality, Wenger would have little choice in allowing Silva to play if the Brazilian FA insist on his inclusion.

It's nonsense for Brazil to be playing in China in February

Arsene Wenger

But while England have reduced their mid-season friendlies, other countries such as France and Brazil persist with meaningless long-haul fixtures.

And clubs such as Arsenal, who employ a number of top-flight foreigners, are deprived of their best players at critical times in the domestic season.

"We will have to see whether we can keep him here as it's nonsense for Brazil to be playing in China in February," said Wenger.

The Gunners' manager is incensed because three days later Arsenal could be involved in an FA Cup fifth-round tie, presuming they first beat Farnborough next weekend.

France have staged friendlies in both South America and Australia, while Brazil will travel to the Far East on 12 February.

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