Arsène Wenger yesterday mapped out Jack Wilshere's long road to recovery, but admitted that even Wilshere's likely 22-week absence is shorter than the club had first feared. Arsenal, who host Olympiakos this evening, will probably be without their player of the season until next March.
Wilshere (right) had surgery on Monday, which inserted a screw to repair a stress fracture in his right ankle, and Wenger admitted that the prognosis might have been much worse. "When people go into surgery you never know what they find," he said. "What they found was a very clean ankle and they came out very positive.
The Arsenal manager detailed Wilshere's next few months. "He will be 12 weeks in a boot and after that it is rehab," he said. "Twelve weeks brings us to around Christmas. If all goes well, you would think he will be fit again to play in half the time you are in the boot – six weeks. Count 10 to be closer to the truth, so it's 22 weeks to be capable to play football again." Wenger was confident that there would be "no worries" about Wilshere's participation in the European Championships next summer.
Wilshere first felt the ankle injury in England's draw with Switzerland on 4 June. He played in pre-season for Arsenal, hoping that the injury had improved, and Wenger yesterday defended the club's response. "We made a scan before we left [for the pre-season Asia tour] and it was all right. This crack in the bone became worse and worse. People say to me it didn't heal because there is no blood supply so it doesn't glue together any more. We had to put a screw in. When you see the scan it looks like a little hole in the bone. We needed to screw that together because it would not heal."
With Arsenal badly hit by injuries, Wenger believes his squad is struggling to balance the twin demands of domestic and European competition. "We paid a heavy price in the Premiership for our performances in the Champions League," he said.
Arsenal will be without Gervinho, Laurent Koscielny and Theo Walcott this evening, all of whom have short-term injuries which will not necessarily keep them out of Sunday's north London derby.Reuse content