England were offered a glimmer of hope last night when Arsène Wenger said he hoped Jack Wilshere would play before the end of the season.
The 20-year-old suffered a setback in training in January, as he began the long journey back from ankle surgery, which had been expected to keep him out until February. His hopes that he might be available for England for this summer's European Championship were beginning to recede.
Wenger said: "We have good news on Jack but he is not close to comeback. The last scan was good and he can start to jog again so he is on the way back – but we have to be very cautious with him." Asked if the midfielder might be back before the end of the season, the Arsenal manager said: "I hope, but we go step by step."