Wenger reveals AJ admiration

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Arsene Wenger has backed Everton's Andrew Johnson to lead the line for England and revealed he was once tempted to take a punt on the then Crystal Palace frontman.

Johnson is expected to start for England alongside Wayne Rooney in the Euro 2008 qualifier against Israel and Wenger, whose Arsenal team face Johnson and Everton on Sunday, is a huge admirer of the 11-goal marksman.

"Andy Johnson is a player who can help England," said the Gunners boss. "He is a good player, with the timing of his runs, the quality of his runs, his team ethic is fantastic and he never gives up.

"He can be one of the players who can compliment Rooney because Rooney is more of a second striker who can make the runs and you need another striker who can stretch the defence.

"If you look at England players who can stretch the defence, Andy Johnson is one of them as well as Michael Owen."

Wenger considered signing Johnson before the Frenchman feels he was priced out of a move.

"I did consider him at one stage when he was at Crystal Palace, but the price stopped it happening," revealed the Arsenal boss.

"Some players make it a bit later, just look at Ian Wright. Johnson did very well in the Premier League as well and gave us problems.

"There was a big fight for Johnson and you know then that it is never below £12million or £13million.

"When you are buying a second striker that is a lot, whereas I can completely understand Everton paying what they did because he is their main striker."