Lehmann expects to return as Arsenal's number one

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BERLIN, Oct 6 (Reuters) Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is confident he will return for Arsenal when he recovers from injury because he says Manuel Almunia has failed to prove he is ready to displace him.

Almunia has said he expects to remain Arsene Wenger's first choice after taking over from Lehmann, who has been out since injuring his elbow in Germany's 2-1 win over England in a friendly at Wembley on August. 22.

''Almunia has also said a lot in the past,'' said Lehmann in an interview to be published in Der Spiegel magazine on Monday.

''He hasn't won anything for us yet.

''Once he even said he was one of the best in Europe. But his performances have not made me have any serious concerns.'' Lehmann, 37, made two blunders in three matches at the start of the season which cost Arsenal goals.

Since then Spaniard Almunia, 30, has let in two goals in eight matches, and none in his last four.

Almunia, who joined the Londoners in July 2004, had only made 42 starts for Arsenal before this season but believes he has done enough in Lehmann's absence to prove he should take over as first choice.

Lehmann is expected to be fit for Germany's Euro 2008 qualifier against Ireland in Dublin next Saturday.

REUTERS PY RK2218

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