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Arsene Wenger rejects Domenech criticism over Gallas

3 April 10 18:51 GMT

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has rejected France coach Raymond Domenech's claim that he was "irresponsible" to play William Gallas against Barcelona.

The France international defender is likely to miss the rest of the season due to a recurrence of a calf injury, leaving Domenech reportedly "livid".

"A club isn't even any more in a situation when it can decide when it plays its players," said Wenger.

"Clubs have the right to pay the players, but not when to play them?"

Wenger expects Gallas to be unavailable for five weeks, possibly enabling him to return for Arsenal's final Premier League game against Fulham on 9 May, nine days ahead of when Domenech insists all his World Cup squad members must be fit to train.

"I don't disagree that I took a gamble on Gallas," added Wenger after Arsenal's 1-0 win over Wolves at the Emirates.

"But the player declares himself fit, the medical staff declared him fit, the rehabilitation centre declared him fit, but I still cannot play him because maybe France needs him in the summer in the World Cup, during which we pay him as well?

"You have to leave some freedom to the club to decide when they play their players."

Prior to Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Barcelona in the Champions League first leg, Gallas had missed eight games with a calf problem and pulled up just before half-time with a recurrence of the injury.

"It's outrageous and irresponsible to have played so early after the injury," Domenech was quoted as saying by British media after learning that Gallas would be out for five weeks. "He'd better be fit for the World Cup."

If Arsenal overcome Barcelona and either CSKA Moscow or Inter Milan in a potential Champions League semi-final, Gallas should be fit for the final in Madrid on 22 May.

The 32-year-old was ruled out for "at least three weeks" immediately after his side had fought back to earn a draw against the defending European champions.

The injury may mean the former Chelsea player has played his final match for Arsenal as his contract is set to expire at the end of this season.

Roma and Paris Saint Germain have reportedly offered him moves away from London, with Wenger delaying discussions over a new deal to focus on his side's hunt for trophies.

The World Cup opens on 11 June in Johannesburg

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