Leicester City boss Claude Puel has expressed his concern at the lack of fitness of his returning World Cup players in pre-season, following their exploits at this summer's World Cup in Russia.
Speaking to the Leicester Mercury, the Frenchman revealed his unease at the condition his squad is currently in, stating his doubt whether certain individuals would be 'available for the first games' with the Premier League season beginning in just over a fortnight.
Puel said: “When a player leaves the World Cup it is always difficult to come back to their club. They need holidays and rest for their body and heads to come back with good desire."
It will be important to give them opportunities as they will come back step by step."
With the 2018/19 league campaign on the horizon, the Foxes open their account against Manchester United at Old Trafford two weeks on Friday night, but already Puel has concerns over his squad.
Having had ten players involved for their respective nations in Russia, eight have now returned to the fold with just Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire yet to return for pre-season training following England's adventures this summer.
Leicester flew out to Austria on Monday night for an intensive training camp, with two pre-season games against Turkish side Akhisaspor and Serie A outfit Udinese on Wednesday and Saturday respectively.
But with the likes of Nigerian trio Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa, as well as Adrien Silva, new arrival Ricardo Pereira, Yohan Benalouane, Kasper Schmeichel and Shinji Okazaki all three weeks behind in preparation, Puel has his concerns.
“At the beginning of the season we do not know if the international players will be available for the first games," Puel stated.
With competition in the top-flight set to be more intense than ever, the Leicester boss will be keen to make a strong start given the pressure the former Southampton boss came under late last season.