Friday 23 March 2018

Wenger: 'Arsenal won't overuse Jack Wilshere this season

Matt McGeehan

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will continue to employ caution in his use of midfielder Jack Wilshere.

Wilshere, who has overcome a succession of long-standing ankle injuries, dropped to the bench for last Saturday's Barclays Premier League win at Fulham.

The midfielder will return to the starting XI for Tuesday night's Champions League qualifying second leg with Fenerbahce as the Gunners, leading 3-0 from the first match, bid to advance to the group stages.

Wenger said: "It made sense to give him a breather because we're playing every three days at the moment. He is not 100 per cent yet, but he is 90 per cent.

"I am a bit cautious because he had a few surgeries. I don't want to make a mistake on the medical front and overuse him because the ankle is the most important part of a football player.

"I would be a bit more cautious (than with another player), until we feel he is completely free from any risk."

Provided Wilshere comes through the Turkish test unscathed, he will also start against Tottenham on Sunday before going on international duty with England, who meet Moldova on Friday, September 6 and Ukraine the following Tuesday.

Wenger is aware of Wilshere's importance to England, whose manager Roy Hodgson announces his squad for the World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

Smiling, Wenger said: "(The Ukraine fixture is) the key. So don't play him against Moldova.

"It's World Cup year but first England have to qualify and we now go into a really important period for England. It's an important year for every single player because they all want to go to the World Cup.

"If you have a good season you have a good chance to have a good the World Cup. So let's first have a good season."

Wenger is bidding to add to his midfield before the September 2 closure of the transfer window.

Injuries to Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have heightened the need in that department.

"We would be a bit more exposed as long as we do not find another player," Wenger added.

"We need a player who is versatile, who can play in different positions in midfield, because at the moment we are a bit short.

"It is not just about additions. (It is about) the right additions."

Wenger's position is under scrutiny from Arsenal fans due to the perceived dithering in the transfer market.

Yet the bi-annual recruitment battle has become more of a challenge for Wenger and Arsenal, with the television money in the Premier League increasing the spending power of England's top clubs.

"It is more difficult for two reasons," he said. "One: I have quality players and, two: the competition for players is absolutely massive in the international market.

"When I arrived in England, English clubs did not go on the international market as much as they do now. Before, we were privileged - a bit more lonely out there. Now, everybody knows everybody."

Another feature of the summer transfer window has been bickering between English top-flight managers over signing players, with Arsenal's pursuit of Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye criticised by their respective managers.

Chelsea's bid for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has been played out in public, as has United's pursuit of Everton duo Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines.

"Everybody has a good opinion about what other managers should do, but they do not look at themselves," Wenger said.

"It's better that you shut up and you don't say anything."

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