By Chris Harris
Thierry Henry expects to be back to full fitness and top form by October.
Arsenal's captain was the last to return to pre-season training after playing in the World Cup Final in July. He had little time to prepare before the new season kicked off on Saturday and - 115 minutes of action later - Henry is feeling the effects.
"I am not fully fit and ready yet," Henry admitted after Wednesday night's substitute appearance against Dinamo Zagreb. "Body-wise I'm OK but against Aston Villa I had trouble turning with the ball and putting some pace into it.
"It is not that easy when you have only had 10 or 12 days of work and you go into the championship. To play for France [last week] and then against Dinamo wasn't easy so we decided with the boss that I was only going to play 25 or 30 minutes.
"I hope it can be as quick as possible before I am fully fit. Normally when you come back in pre-season you play the likes of Barnet and I struggle sometimes even in games like that. It is harder to prepare yourself for competitive games and usually it takes a month or a month and a half to get going."
That prognosis takes Henry up to the start of October, but the captain will do everything he can to help Arsenal's cause while he eases his way back to peak condition.
"October was the plan from the start," the captain said. "The boss knew that. You can't just give someone who played until the end of the World Cup 10 days rest. I had two-and-a-half weeks off and then just 10 to 11 days to prepare myself.
"The body is not quite ready yet. I would love it to be tomorrow but I have to take it slowly and, if I can go out there and help the team, I will. It is important to be out there and to try to help the team. I try to give my best and obviously when I am fully fit and ready I can give more."
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