Arsenal injury list: Jack Wilshere says he is 'ready' for a first-team return after playing 90 minutes for the reserves

Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby also played in the 4-1 win over Stoke

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The Independent Football

Jack Wilshere believes he is close to a return to first-team action after completing 90 minutes for Arsenal's Under-21s on Tuesday.

The England midfielder has had a long spell out and has not played at senior level since he suffered an ankle injury in the defeat to Manchester United on 22 November.

The 23-year-old needed surgery and suffered a setback in the latest in a long line of injuries, but after the game against Stoke he said he is close to full fitness.

Wilshere  started alongside Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby in a formidable line-up as the second-string side defeated Stoke 4-1 at the Emirates.

Playing the full 90 minutes was a timely confidence boost for Wilshere, who is now keen to force his way into Arsene Wenger's team ahead of the end of season run-in, with Arsenal battling on both Premier League and FA Cup fronts.

"You can train as much as you like but you can't get that match fitness unless you play," Wilshere told Arsenal's official website.

"In the Premier League you know how quick it is so you have to get back to that speed.

"I feel like I'm ready to play some part. When you're injured you look at your comeback date and the games around that time.

"The one that stands out is the FA Cup semi-final but even before that we've got big games and we've got to got to Man United as well so there's a chance to play this season."

Additional reporting from PA