Lehamnn set for reserve action

The veteran German international came out of retirement to help

ease the Gunners’ goalkeeping crisis after injuries to Wojciech

Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski left Manuel Almunia as the only fit

senior man. James Shea, 19, is normally between the posts for Neil

Banfield’s side, with 10 appearances so far. However, given

Lehmann, who will be 42 later this year, is in need of match

sharpness, he could be given a run-out against the Latics at the

Robin Park Arena. Almunia, 33, may have only just found himself

back in the first-team picture, but the Spaniard is already under

the spotlight once again. Despite performing well in what turned

out to be a 3-1 defeat against Barcelona which ended Arsenal’s

Champions League ambitions for another season last month, Almunia

then left himself open to criticism after a terrible mix-up with

stand-in centre-back Sebastien Squillaci at The Hawthorns which

allowed relegation battlers West Brom to take a 2-0 lead. While the

Gunners eventually fought back to salvage a draw, it has again put

focus on who will be between the posts when domestic action resumes

against Blackburn at Emirates Stadium on April 2. With Arsenal now

trailing Manchester United by five points, albeit with a match in

hand ahead of their May 1 showdown, there can be little room for

further error. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed Almunia was

left “hurt” by his costly blunder, but refused to be drawn on

whether he would now make a change against Rovers. The Frenchman

told Arsenal TV Online: “Jens has kept himself very fit. “He had a

good basic regime, so that means he can absorb quite easily the

specific work of a goalkeeper.” Lehmann was part of Arsenal’s

Invincibles team which won the 2003/2004 Premier League crown

without losing a match. The German also lifted the FA Cup in 2005

and his record of 10 successive clean sheets played a huge part in

getting the team to the Champions League final the following season

against Barcelona in Paris, where he was sent off inside 20

minutes. The veteran’s last and seemingly final appearance for the

Gunners came against Everton on May 4 2008 ahead of a move to

Stuttgart. Since his retirement, Lehmann had been working as a

media pundit, witnessing Arsenal’s defeat in the Nou Camp first

hand, and had also planned to spend some time with the Gunners

backroom staff as he prepared for a move into coaching before an

unexpected call from Wenger.