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Wenger: No one to blame for Jack woe

ARSENE Wenger insists there is no point in playing the blame game as Arsenal prepare to do without England midfielder Jack Wilshere for most of the season.

The 19-year-old has not yet played a competitive match for the Gunners this season and yesterday underwent ankle surgery, which is expected to rule him out of contention until late February at the earliest.

It is a much more serious prognosis than originally suggested.

Wenger, however, rejected suggestions this setback was the direct result of any one factor.

“You can blame yourself if you think people warned you be careful because he has a problem, but he had no problem,” the Arsenal manager told reporters ahead of tonight’s Champions League clash against Olympiacos at Emirates Stadium.

“If you say to a player who is 18, who has no problem, ‘you don’t play’, he doesn’t understand.

“It is difficult, especially at the end of the season we couldn’t rest him at all because (Cesc) Fabregas was always injured.

“Maybe we played him too much. His injury isn’t necessarily linked with that.”

Wilshere first felt the injury during the England international against Switzerland on June 4.

Wenger, though, insists all appeared well as Arsenal prepared for the new campaign with a pre-season tour of Asia.

He said: “We made a scan before we left and it was all right. This crack in the bone became worse and worse.”

Arsenal eased the pressure with their Premier League victory over 10-man Bolton on Saturday after what has been one of the most testing spells of Wenger’s 15-year tenure.

In Europe, though, the Gunners have produced the goods, securing a place in the group stages with an impressive two-legged win over Serie A pacesetters Udinese and then coming away from Dortmund with a 1-1 draw after a late goal salvaged a point for the hosts.

“We paid a heavy price in the Premier League for the quality of our performances in Europe,” said Wenger.