Jack Wilshere will not return from injury until at least October, according to Arsène Wenger. The Arsenal manager had been unwilling to set a comeback date for the England midfielder, who has already been out for a year with ankle and knee problems.
But, speaking ahead of Arsenal's final match of their Asia tour in Hong Kong yesterday, Wenger said: "Hopefully, we will get Wilshere back playing for October. With Abou Diaby returning, it will be like signing two new players. This season, the squad will be strong and competitive."
Wilshere, who will reportedly resume light training next month, underwent a procedure on his knee in May, having missed the whole of last season with an ankle problem.
An October return would rule him out of England's opening two World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, which take place in early September.
On the pitch, Theo Walcott and Thomas Eisfeld were on target as Arsenal twice came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw in their friendly with Hong Kong champions KitChee. Yago and Dani Cancela gave the home team the lead but Wenger's side battled back on each occasion to end their three-match of Asia tour with a win, a defeat and a draw.
Wenger admitted that his side looked weak at the back and demanded an improvement. "Defensively we looked fragile, especially in the first half," he said. "In the second half not so much because we were not challenged. Defensively, though, we have a lot of work to do as a unit and we must do better."