It’s believed that young English midfielder Jack Wilshere may still return to the Gunners before the season’s over and could still play a part in the team’s late-season run for third place and a guaranteed Champions League spot for next season. Manager Arsene Wenger hasn’t publicly announced a timetable for Wilshere’s return, but the Independent reports that he privately thinks Wilshere will return before the campaign comes to an end.
Wilshere has been out long term due to a stress fracture in his right ankle and has suffered a couple of setbacks while attempting to make a comeback. The report said he could be lacing up his boots again for Arsenal in the next two or three weeks. If he returns in that timeframe he could be able to suit up for the club’s final five matches of the season.
The 20-year-old could be chosen to represent England at the European Championships this summer in Poland and Ukraine, but you can bet Wenger won’t be too happy about Wilshere playing in a major tournament so soon after recovering from surgery. However, since he’s just 20, there is a possibility that Wilshere could be selected to represent Great Britain at this year’s Olympic Games in London since that will give him about an extra six weeks of recovery time.
Wilshere hasn’t played for the Gunners at all since the current season got underway and it will be eight months this Saturday since he limped off the pitch at the Emirates during a friendly against America’s New York Red Bulls. MRI medical tests showed he had suffered a stress fracture and he underwent surgery back in September to fix the problem. But each time he’s attempted to return to action he’s had to push the date back due to problems with the ankle.
Wenger said he isn’t worried about Wilshere’s long-term future, but it’s impossible to predict when he’ll be able to suit up again for a first-team contest. Wenger said earlier in the year, after Wilshere suffered problems with his ankle in January, that he thought he’d be healthy in time to play with England at Euro 2012.
If he does come back, the Gunners’ last five matches are against cellar-dwellers Wigan, London neighbours Chelsea, then Stoke, Norwich and finally West Bromwich Albion. According to Wenger, the club will just have to take things week by week as far as Wilshere is concerned and he definitely won’t be rushed back into action if he’s not fit enough to play. He said Wilshere’s last scan showed the damage had healed, but now it’s a matter of the player’s fitness and progress.
Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong are currently the only two long-term injuries in the squad and it’s believed that Abou Diaby could return against Aston Villa on Saturday after playing and scoring in the reserves against Liverpool earlier in the week.
Wenger stated that his players endured some negative experiences last year after it became aware they weren’t going to win the EPL title and had to settle for a top-four finish. But he said there’s a lot of motivation in the squad this season because they realize they will have to fight off Spurs and Chelsea if they hope to make the Champions League again next season.
He added that things are completely different this season due to the team’s poor start to the campaign and he hopes they can build on their record of five straight wins and keep the momentum going.