LONDON, January 13- Sol Campbell was nearing an extraordinary return to Arsenal on Tuesday.
The English Premier League club confirmed the 35-year-old former Gunners captain would play for Arsenal’s reserves against West Ham later on Tuesday, with the aim of making a permanent move back to the north London club.
"Tonight’s (Tuesday’s) reserve team to face West Ham United at Upton Park features Sol Campbell, who plays tonight on a reserve league registration, with a view to a permanent move back to Arsenal Football Club," a statement on Arsenal’s official website said.
The central defender, capped 73 times by England, left Arsenal for Premier League rivals Portsmouth in 2006.
He has been training with the Gunners since his ill-fated brief stint with fourth tier outfit Notts County earlier this season.
Last week Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spoke in glowing terms about Campbell, a member of the Londoners’ unbeaten 2003/04 league team and Portsmouth’s captain when they won the FA Cup two years ago.
"He has a fantastic attitude and good fitness," said Wenger. "Of course he is not the youngest, but he is in very good shape. He can still play in the Premier League, I’ve said that many times.
"He is important in the dressing-room as well. He’s positive with the young players.
"Every year we have one or two like that and I think a Premier League club will sign him," added the Frenchman, who would be breaking one of his sacred cows as he has never before re-signed a former player.
In his five years with Arsenal, Campbell won two Premier League titles, and three FA Cups.
Were he to return, Campbell would, along with 32-year-old Mikael Silvestre, provide cover for the first-choice central defensive pairing of William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen.
But a second Gunners stint for Campbell would cast doubt on the Arsenal future of Philippe Senderos.
The Swiss centre-back, currently out with a foot injury, spent last season on loan at Italian giants AC Milan and was linked with a pre-season move to Everton.