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Aston Villa boss plays waiting game before season opener

Sport | Published:

Villa boss Paul Lambert today insisted he will wait before deciding whether to unleash Jores Okore and Aleksandar Tonev at Arsenal.

The duo missed a month of pre-season with injury and Lambert wants to assess their fitness after the international games.

Denmark defender Okore, along with countryman Nicklas Helenius, has not linked up with his country for their trip to Poland tomorrow after recovering from a hamstring injury.

He played in the 3-2 win over Malaga on Saturday, scoring an own goal, as he continued his return to fitness.

Tonev, who suffered a thigh problem in July, is away with Bulgaria to face Macedonia though and Lambert will sit tight ahead of the Premier League opener.

He said: "I'll wait and see, they have all got to go with their national teams and have to see how they all come back. Hopefully they'll all come back fit.

"With Jores, I'll decide later on in the week. He's not played much and it's a low count. He's not ready to go away.

"Tonev has speed but he has not played much at all, it was a big ask for him to come in on Saturday but I was delighted with his contribution.

"He is very gifted with both feet, he is only a young lad coming here and he's got to learn the culture as well. He's done fine."

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Ron Vlaar (Holland), Christian Benteke (Belgium), Andi Weimann (Austria), Ciaran Clark (Ireland), Brad Guzan (USA) are all away while unwanted pair Barry Bannan and Alan Hutton are in the Scotland squad.

Yacouba Sylla, Marc Albrighton and Gary Gardner played in the under-21s' 3-0 defeat to West Ham yesterday and Lambert insisted nothing should be read into his squad from the Malaga win.

He said: "There are lads who haven't had much game time, who haven't played 90 minutes and lads who may have played too much and were left out. It was a mix and match really.

"We've progressed, that's all you can ask for, you can hear the crowd, they are right behind it. They can see it which is always a big barometer how far you have come. They can see the team can be full of energy."

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