Arsene Wenger remains cautious over Jack Wilshere's return, warning Arsenal fans not to go 'crazy'

 

Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal and England must not go “crazy” over Jack Wilshere's return to action.

The midfielder played his first match for more than a year in the Under-21s at West Brom on Monday afternoon, having been sidelined by a niggling ankle problem and then knee surgery.

Wilshere, 20, is set for another run-out next week against Reading, but Wenger continues to stress it must be a cautious rehabilitation for the 20-year-old.

"Jack needs a few games, progressive build-up to get his body used again to competition, to shocks, to fights, but he is doing extremely well, the situation looks very good," said Wenger, whose side will look to get their Barclays Premier League campaign back on track at West Ham tomorrow following defeat by leaders Chelsea.

"We have to be cautious, not crazy, because of his talent you are always pushed in a situation where you would like to rush him back, and we have to resist that.

"The next match should be next week and he is working very hard.

"The body is like that, when you have been out of competition for 14 months it takes a long time to find your sharpness back. You cannot rush it."

Wenger hopes a steady fitness programme will see long-term benefits for everyone.

"There are three things that are important for every player: the health of the player, the interests of the club and the interests of the national team," said Wenger.

"You have to try to combine the three but the most important thing of course is the health of the player.

"[England manager] Roy Hodgson is long enough in the job to know that a player who has been out for 14 months, you have to give him time to play again. When the time comes up, he will play for England again of course."

Hodgson called up left-back Kieran Gibbs, midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and forward Theo Walcott for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

Right-back Carl Jenkinson was also close to Hodgson's thoughts, with the Gunners now providing a healthy chunk of the England senior squad.

"Yes [it is a change] because I faced many times of course some questions about that," said Wenger.

"I always said that the ideal mixture was to have a basic young squad where 60% comes from this country and 40% maybe from abroad. We get slowly there and we have good young talent from England."

Arsenal head to Upton Park without first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and midfielder Abou Diaby, but are hopeful German centre-back Per Mertesacker can shake off a virus - which would be a boost ahead of facing England forward Andy Carroll, who has recovered from a hamstring injury.

Wenger expects another stern test against the Irons.

"They have a good balance, they are efficient, they are a good mixture I must say between direct play and playing on the ground," he said.

"Technically they are quite sound in midfield, they have Carroll and [Carlton] Cole up front who can go for high balls.

"We know we will have a big challenge there, we know we will only get away with the points if we perform at our best."

PA

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