Tuesday 12 December 2017

Wilshere in line to end injury exile for Gunners

Jack Pitt Brooke

Giovanni Trapattoni is expected at Carrow Road this evening to watch Wes Hoolahan, but it's another creative midfielder in the Arsenal ranks who will be the source of much more attention from the locals.

Jack Wilshere will be in Arsenal's squad and could make his first-team return after 16 months out injured. The midfielder has been out with ankle and knee injuries since the end of the 2010-11 season. He had played twice for Arsenal U-21s earlier this month before completing 90 minutes of a friendly behind closed doors earlier this week.

Arsene Wenger predicted a return in the League Cup game at Reading in 10 days' time, but a good training session made an impression and now the midfielder is set to be on the bench at Carrow Road this afternoon.

Wenger said because Wilshere's injury was a stress fracture rather than from a bad tackle, he would have no psychological block or fear of contact. Comparing Wilshere to Eduardo, who broke his leg in a tackle in 2008 and was never same again, Wenger was confident about the youngster's return.

"If you protect the ball and somebody tackles you from behind and kills your knee, when you come back it will be difficult to protect the ball in the same position," Wenger said. "Many times the player does not get in that position where he has been vulnerable.

"Jack has none of that -- he has not been injured in a specific tackle."

Wilshere's last first-team game was England's 2-2 draw with Switzerland at Wembley on June 4, 2011. His last competitive game for Arsenal was the 2-2 draw at Fulham on May 22, 2011.

Wilshere is used to playing in Arsenal midfields with Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song, but Wenger was confident he would quickly find understanding with Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla.

Wenger said match fitness was the only area where the 20-year-old was lacking. "One is the apprehension to go into challenges when you have too many injuries," he explained. "On that front we are at 100pc. We even have to calm him down. He goes for every challenge... Then you have the physical front -- he is OK there. Then you have the match fitness -- he is 80pc.

(© Independent News Service)

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