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Premier League

Arsenal pair Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott fit for Southampton

Frenchman also denies rift relating to Wilshere's England appearances

Arsene Wenger last night insisted that Jack Wilshere is fit to play for Arsenal against Southampton on Saturday, and that he was relaxed about his involvement for England during the recent internationals.

Arsenal midfielder Wilshere played in both Wembley friendlies, completing 71 minutes against Chile last Friday before being named as a substitute for the Germany game on Tuesday. He came on with 26 minutes left of the 1-0 defeat, during which time he sustained a kick to the calf.

Wenger, though, moved quickly yesterday to say that Wilshere was fit to face third-placed Southampton in the Premier League at the Emirates tomorrow, and that he did not mind how Roy Hodgson had used him. “First of all Jack is not injured, that was not the right information,” Wenger told Arsenal.com.

“Secondly, I have no problem with the FA, they respected completely what they told me and it was [for Wilshere] to play in one game and be on the bench in the other. They did that very well. So there is no misunderstanding there.”

Wilshere’s fitness is naturally an important topic at both club and international level as he waits to rediscover his rhythm and form after a lengthy injury lay-off. Wilshere has started just one of Arsenal’s last five games, and that was the home Capital One Cup defeat to Chelsea. Although Wenger has repeatedly said he sees Wilshere as a deep-lying midfielder, he has been primarily used in wide areas this season.

Wenger has other good injury news, with Theo Walcott set to return to the first-team squad for Saturday’s game. The England winger has not featured for three months with abdominal injury.

“Theo will be back for Saturday in the squad,” said Wenger. “He’s completely fit again. He has not played for a long time, of course, he has not played even a reserve team game, but I will put him in the squad on Saturday.”

Tomas Rosicky has been ill and will be assessed today, while Lukas Podolski is three weeks away from a return but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be out for at least one more month.