/ Soccer

Wenger expects Cole to commit

Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2007 16:52

Arsenal and England defender Ashley Cole
Arsenal and England defender Ashley Cole

Arsene Wenger is convinced Ashley Cole wants to stay at Arsenal.

The England full-back received a mixed reception from the home fans on his first return to action at Highbury during yesterday's 4-1 win over Norwich after he was charged by the Premier League, along with Chelsea and their manager, Jose Mourinho, over an alleged breach of the competition rules regarding approaches to players.

Cole, 24, though, remains an integral part of the Gunners' plans, according to Wenger, who maintains he has been given clear indications of the players' willingness to stay.

Wenger said: "I am convinced he will stay and I will try everything to keep him here. To extend his contract is the next step, at the right salary.

"I know we want to keep him, the board wants to keep him and we want him to stay here and be happy.

"I would like to keep the conversations with Cole private, but I am convinced deeply that Ashley wants to stay, that is my belief."

One of Cole's reported grievances from contract discussions with Arsenal was said to be over wages, which the England international felt should have been substantially increased to bring him in line with the Gunners other top earners.

Wenger, though, maintained the full-back's financial terms would be much improved, should he agree to remain at Arsenal.

"Of course we want Ashley to be in the top bracket of international players at the club. We have our own wages scale."

The comfortable win over the Barclays Premiership strugglers - where Thierry Henry smashed a hat-trick to move within four of Ian Wright's all-time scoring record - lifted Arsenal above Manchester United into second place.

Wenger said: "For me the most important thing is the championship, the European Cup will come, but this year we were not equipped enough."

However, he accepted: "We need to improve the squad a little bit, and give time to our young players."