Jack Wilshere is unlikely to face Monaco in Arsenal’s Champions League last-16 first leg after sitting out training on Tuesday, with Arsene Wenger showing caution over his return from a lengthy injury-enforced absence.
Wilshere underwent surgery on an injury ankle in November after suffering ligament damage in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United, but he returned to the Gunners’ squad last week for the trip to Crystal Palace as Wenger named the England midfielder on the bench.
While the 23-year-old did not get on during the 2-1 victory, he is unlikely to play on Wednesday night where Arsenal will be looking to take advantage of home advantage to build a commanding lead against Ligue 1 outfit Monaco.
Arsenal's injury list
Arsenal's injury list
1/5 Mikel Arteta (midfield)
Like Diaby, the Spaniard is closing in on a return but the Swansea match will come to soon. The club captain last played in November.
2/5 Mathieu Debuchy (defender)
Returned in the FA Cup semi-final win over Reading but has since been ruled out with injury and Wenger confirmed he remains 'unavailable'.
3/5 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (midfield)
Suffered a hamstring injury against Manchester United in the FA Cup and hasn't played since as it has exacerbated a groin problem. Out at least until May and facing surgery in the summer.
4/5 Aaron Ramsey (midfield)
Aaron Ramsey caught a kick on his calf during the win over Hull and was later substituted. The Welshman was rated 50/50 for the Swansea match by Wenger, but it now appears that he is a major doubt for the clash at the Emirates.
5/5 Danny Welbeck (forward)
Danny Welbeck has not played since the goalless draw with Chelsea towards the end of April after suffering a knee injury. Wenger has confirmed that the injury is 'nothing major', and that he should return to full fitness before the end of the season.
Wenger faced the media on Tuesday afternoon in which he confirmed that Wilshere sat out the morning training session, and admitted that he was only being rested and had not suffered another setback in his return to action.
"The only uncertainty is Jack Wilshere,” said Wenger. “He was rested in training today. There's no setback."
Wenger leads his side into their last-16 encounter against the club he used to manager having been manager at Monaco from 1987 until 1994. The 65-year-old Frenchman admitted that he was pleased to see the club back in Europe’s elite competition having suffered relegation to the second division in France just a handful of years ago, but insisted he is determined on securing victory to take a lead to the Mediterranean coast in three weeks’ time.
"It's interesting,” added Wenger. “I'm happy Monaco are back at the top level but now I'm focused on the game.
"They are a disciplined team who are very strong in defence, well organised and dangerous on the break.
"We can be confident because we've won our games. We have the right commitment and spirit but these are hard games."
Wenger also explained that he enjoys the pressure of the Champions League knockout rounds, having progressed from their group for each of the past 17 seasons in the competition.
"I love pressure because there's lots at stake and those are the ones you want to be involved with as a manager and a player,” he said. "We have had 17 consecutive seasons in this competition. 'Easy' is a word you need to ban in the Champions League."
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