Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez still hopes to face Tottenham, says Arsene Wenger

LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that star forward Alexis Sanchez is pushing to play in Saturday's North London derby against Tottenham.

Sanchez, who has been the Gunners' most potent attacking force so far this season, sat out last weekend's win against Aston Villa with a hamstring strain.

Wenger had on Thursday ruled the Chilean out of contention for Saturday's game at White Hart Lane and insisted he needed more time to recover from his injury. But he told he prematch news conference on Friday that the summer signing from Barcelona still harbours hope of featuring in the derby.

"It is not easy to tell him he is not playing," Wenger said. "He wants to play. He is very keen. He feels he can even defy the medical people because he is so keen to play.

"He will train today and we will look at what happens. I need medical advice on that and I need to see what he can do in training. Sanchez for me is out [of the Spurs game], although he wants to have a go, but he is too short."

Meanwhile, Wenger has offered a glowing tribute to Spurs striker Harry Kane, saying the 21-year-old's impact in the Premier League is evidence that homegrown talent can still flourish despite the influx of foreign players into English football.

"Kane was absolutely outstanding until now," Wenger said. "It is impressive the way he has made his way through and his personality shows on the pitch. He is one of the players that since the start of the season has made a big impact in the Premier League.

"It shows what is possible. This is why I always say the talk of a quota system is a false and superficial protection. When players have the quality they play, no matter where they are from. Let's get our young players to be confronted with top quality players and if they make it, then they are really good players."

Wenger added that his latest derby as Arsenal boss once again has the potential to be crucial in the battle for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

"These are two teams fighting very hard to be at the top of the league and it can be a spectacular game," he said. "In the derby, the home ground is not too significant at times. It is high commitment, high pace and we just focus on the quality of our game and the quality of our performance, no matter where we play."

Danny Welbeck returns to the Arsenal squad after a spell on the sidelines, with Wenger confirming midfielder Jack Wilshere is closing in on a first team return as he prepares to return to training.