Arsenal are already facing a defensive crisis ahead of the new season.
The Gunners have departed for their pre-season tour of Australia as Arsene Wenger’s men prepare for the new Premier League campaign.
Arsenal kick off the Premier League campaign at home to Leicester on August 11.
But like last season when they were beaten by Liverpool, Wenger could find himself light for the opener, reports Football.London.
Laurent Koscielny’s red card against Everton on the final day of the Premier League last term means he will miss the first two games of the new campaign.
Meanwhile, none of Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding or Calum Chambers made the trip to Australia for the pre-season tour after their involvement in the Confederations Cup and the U21 European Championships.
All three are expected to be given additional time off to recover – as is right back Hector Bellerin, who reached the final of the U21 Euros – while it is unclear exactly when Gabriel will return from the knee injury that kept him out of the FA Cup final.
This leaves just Per Mertesacker and Carl Jenkinson as senior centre-backs in the squad – although Jenkinson is predominantly a right back and it is looking increasingly likely that he will leave this summer after being left out of the pre-season squad.
Arsene Wenger may be forced to once again draft Nacho Monreal into the centre of his defence or call upon youngster Krystian Bielik if he intends to keep with the three at the back policy that proved so successful at the end of last season.
The Arsenal boss may also choose to cut Holding’s rest time short after the Englishman failed to play a single minute at the U21 Euros this summer.
The fact that Bielik has travelled to Australia hints that Wenger knows he could have an issue on his hands, and whatever happens it seems that the pre-season preparation will be less than ideal for at least one of Arsenal’s defensive contingent.