Ex-Gunners want Rice job as Arsenal assistant considers calling it quits
21:30 GMT, 27 April 2012
Three Arsenal old boys are vying to be Arsene Wenger’s new No 2 if Pat Rice decides to retire at the end of the season.
Youth team coach Steve Bould, former goalkeeper Jens Lehmann and ex-Arsenal captain Tony Adams are all in contention, with Wenger keen to appoint someone who ‘knows and has worked inside the club’.
Rice, 63, is out of contract in the summer and chronic knee problems may force him to give up the post he has held since 1996.
Time up Pat Rice (right) could quit his job as Arsenal's assistant manager
Former Arsenal defender Bould, 50, is seen as his likely successor, but Lehmann, 42, has been spending a lot of time with Wenger as he completes his coaching badges. Adams, 45, has also been a regular visitor to Arsenal’s training complex since leaving Azerbaijan club Gabala FC in November.
Asked whether Bould could be Arsenal’s new assistant manager, Wenger said: ‘It is possible. Everywhere I go I keep somebody who knows the club and worked inside the club, so it is a possibility.
‘It (Rice’s future) will be decided very, very soon and I will decide after that. It looks like he could stop, but it is not official yet.
‘Pat is fantastic. He works every day hard.’
Fancy it Tony Adams (back) is among hose in contention for Rice's job
The Arsenal manager also revealed he fears Jack Wilshere may not be fit by the beginning of next season.
The 20-year-old has not played at all during this campaign after suffering a right ankle injury, but is still ‘not guaranteed’ to start pre-season training with Arsenal on July 9.
Wenger is deeply opposed to Wilshere playing for Team GB in the Olympic football competition, which kicks off on July 26.
The Frenchman said: ‘I am cautious with him. If you say “You can go to Olympics” and he doesn’t make it, what do you give him after
‘That is why I do not want to set the Olympics as a target because I do not know whether he will be fit to start at the beginning of the season.
No rush: Jack Wilshere will be nursed back to fitness following his injury
‘When we start on July 9 (and) he can join in, then we have won the battle. But that is not guaranteed.’
There was better news, however, for Theo Walcott, who may recover from a hamstring injury in time to play in Arsenal’s final game this season, at West Bromwich Albion on May 13.
Wenger said: ‘(The injury) is less serious than we thought. He has a small chance to play in the last game.
‘He won’t play against Norwich (on May 5) but for the Euros, there is no doubt. He is definitely available.
‘I think in fact the injury of Walcott is good news for England because he just has a little rest. He should be in a good frame of mind and physically fit.’