By Richard Clarke in Lisbon

Arsène Wenger has explained the absences in his squad for the trip to Benfica this weekend.

Arsenal have taken 19 players to Lisbon for the Eusebio Cup on Saturday night but some key men are missing.

At the pre-match press conference on Friday evening, he explained the situation.

“Walcott is back in training but he is not ready just yet,” he began. “Wilshere is injured on his ankle and it is very difficult to set a concrete deadline on his comeback.

“Nasri has a muscular problem. Cesc is just coming back from injury and he is not ready to play in the game. Diaby is out and Koscielny has a small muscular problem.

“Bendtner and Eboue are not in the squad because they might be going out of the Club.

“Koscielny and Nasri might be back for the start of the season. I don't think Fabregas will be ready to start the season because he has been out for a long time and has had no games. Walcott might be back and, as for Wilshere, it is very difficult to say.”

The manager was pressed on the question of Fabregas given his appearance at open training during Members Day earlier this week and the continued speculation surrounding his future.

“I do not want to speak about the transfer of Fabregas because I have done that three years now in every press conference so I don't think there is any more need to add something,” said Wenger. “I love Fabregas and I want him to stay, that is basically it.

“Everybody is free to think what they want. We cannot stop people raising questions.

“He is just coming back from injury and is not ready to play in a game. But he is not injured.”

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5 Aug 2011