Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski has returned to training ahead of a proposed return from a hamstring tear before the New Year.

The German international has been out since August since limping out of the Champions League playoff win over Fenerbahce.

In his absence Arsenal have soared to the summit of the Premier League and are on the brink of qualification for the knock-out phase of Europe's premier club competition.

Podolski's return comes on the eve of the start of the busiest period of the season during which Arsenal play nine games across 40 days.

"It's great because he is a quality player," manager Arsene Wenger said. "He can score goals, he can play in different positions, like centre forward and on the flanks. That is vital for us, to get everybody back."

Despite returning to training this week Arsenal will be without Podolski for at least another three weeks as he continues to regain strength in his hamstring.

The 28 year old is set to become the latest long-term injury victim to return for Arsenal, with Theo Walcott having returned against Southampton at the weekend while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected back in three weeks also.

Walcott missed two months of action after having abdominal surgery while Chamberlain last played in August after limping out of the league opener against Aston Villa with a knee injury.

Abou Diaby, another victim of injury, is not due back until the New Year.

Manager Arsene Wenger is under pressure to spend in the upcoming January transfer window but with Walcott having played 20 minutes in the win over Saints and Podolski set for a December return, the Frenchman has hinted he may resist investing.

"I think we can win the title without signing a striker," he said. "[Lukas] Podolski is not back but he shouldn't be too far now. They make it less critical to sign a striker.

"Look, I am not against it [signing a player in January]. I don't say I never make a mistake - I certainly made some. Sometimes it is because we didn't sign the right player.

"It is always difficult in the middle of the season. If somebody is doing well somewhere the clubs do not necessarily want to sell him. They can wait until the end of the season. Most of the time it is because we didn't find [the right available player]."