The bulk of Arsenal’s professional players are not due back at the club’s London Colney training base until July 9th, but for three promising youngsters preparations for the new campaign have already started, with Jack Wilshere, Carl Jenkinson and Benik Afobe all putting in extra sessions prior to the main group’s arrival.
All three players spent large proportions of the 2011/12 season, in Wilshere’s case the entire campaign, on the sidelines and are determined to prove their fitness before the club’s pre-season preparations officially get underway. Wilshere and Jenkinson will be hopeful of featuring in Arsenal’s three-stop tour of Asia, which is preceded by a mini-tournament hosted at St Mary’s Stadium involving Southampton and Rangers.
Afobe, however, will see his club preparations somewhat disrupted by international commitments after the striker, who spent the last few months of last season with Reading, was named in the England under-19 squad for the European Championships at that level which will take place in Estonia from July 3 to July 15. Afobe will therefore miss the Southampton tournament and, as he is likely to be granted a period of rest after his excursions with the national side, may also miss out on the Asia Tour, although he will be available when the club travel to Nigeria for their penultimate pre-season fixture.
As things stand, in addition to Wilshere and Jenkinson, 17 further members* of the first-team squad, those who were not involved in the European Championships, are due to return to London Colney on July 9th, with this group including returning loanees Joel Campbell, Vito Mannone, Ryo Miyaichi and Carlos Vela. Furthermore, Wojciech Szczesny, Nicklas Bendtner, Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin, whose countries all exited the tournament at the group stage, should be ready to return on the same date, by which time they will have concluded their three week rest period.
Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski remain active in the competition and will return to Arsenal three weeks after their respective countries’ involvement in Poland and Ukraine is over.
In addition to those mentioned, Bacary Sagna should be available again by the Asia Tour comes around after suffering from a broken leg, although Lukasz Fabianski may spend a longer period out and Emmanuel Frimpong is not expected back until September or October following his injury.
For the Reserves, 26 players and a further 19 scholars are set to return in the next few weeks, but Zak Ansah will remain sidelined until at least August.
* Other players due back on July 9th- Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Song, Mikel Arteta, Gervinho, Vito Mannone, Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey, Marouane Chamakh, Andre Santos, Ju Young Park, Sebastien Squillaci, Francis Coquelin, Ryo, Johan Djourou, Joel Campbell. – Denilson may return slightly later as his loan spell with Sao Paulo is still ongoing.