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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has conceded that new entrants Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud may not be fit enough to start the Gunners' Premier League campaign.
The duo, signed for a combined fee of Â£23 million, were given an extended holiday following their commitments in the European Championships earlier in the summer, and were omitted from the Arsenal squad that travelled to the Far East for the Gunners' pre-season tour.
However, Wenger admitted that the players were taking more time than expected to get up to speed, and would need to be slowly incorporated into the first team instead of having them play every game right at the start of their campaign.
"Podolski and Giroud may take longer than expected. I cannot play them in pre-season so I will ease them into the Premier League," Wenger is quoted as having said in an interview to the Sun.
Tomas Rosicky, who revived his career at the Emirates last term, will also be missing at least the first month of Premier League action after requiring surgery on his injured Achilles tendon, while the Gunners' regular right-back Bacary Sagna is expected to return to only in September following a broken leg.
On the other hand, Wenger confirmed that Nicklas Bendtner, Park Chu-Young and Sebastien Squillaci had all reached the end of their careers at the Emirates, and would need to look for a new suitors. However, the Frenchman left the door open for Andrei Arshavin, suggesting that the Russian could still have a future at the Emirates if he wanted to stay.
The Gunners' old defensive frailties were on show again in their pre-season friendlies, as the side conceded five goals in their three encounters, and the Arsenal boss admitted that a lot of work is left to be done between now and the start of the season to get the players ready for the challenges they would face in the league.
"Defensively we have work to do as we were not stable in any of the games. That is where we have work to do. A lot of work," he added.
"Apart from that, we should have scored more goals from the chances we had but that will come from physical sharpness."
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