The Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is still hopeful of returning to action by the end of August, despite the latest gloomy update from Arsene Wenger that the player's comeback is still so far off that he cannot even put a date on when he may play for the club again.
The 20-year-old is approaching an entire year out of the game – he last played against New York Red Bulls in the Emirates Cup 12 months ago, a week today – and has not travelled to Malaysia for the club's tour of Asia. Wenger hinted this week that Wilshere may not be fit to play before October but the player is understood to be more optimistic about his return date.
The Arsenal manager told English newspapers in Kuala Lumpur this week that Wilshere would not be ready for the start of the season. "Any player still in the gym in July is not on the pitch for August, that is for sure," Wenger said. There have been frequent differences of opinion between club and player over the year in which he has had surgery first on an ankle, and then, in May, on his knee.
Wilshere hopes to be back in action, initially as a substitute, towards the end of August and the start of September. His original injury was a stress fracture to his ankle which subsequently required surgery last year. When it became clear that he would not play at Euro 2012 or the Olympics he opted to have a non-essential minor operation on the tendonitis in one of his knees – a procedure that could have been delayed but was undertaken because of the window afforded by the free summer.
That slowed down his rehabilitation to some degree but those close to Wilshere say that he has only had five days off all summer, working intensively at the club's training ground to strengthen his ankle and knee. His attitude has been to close himself off completely in order to focus on his recovery. A once-prolific tweeter he has even closed down his Twitter account.
He is understood to be much more positive about an imminent recovery than he was six months ago and is now able to do some of his work outside of the gym at Arsenal's training ground. The club are understandably cautious about his progress. Arsenal play today in Kuala Lumpur against a Malaysia XI with no resolution yet on the future of Robin Van Persie. Malaga's Santi Cazorla, 27, the Spain international, is another transfer target for the club.