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Premier League

Jack Wilshere backed to shine at World Cup by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

The midfielder could be returning to fitness at just the right time

Arsène Wenger insists Jack Wilshere will be at full fitness for England at the World Cup, and could be “the positive surprise” of the tournament.

The Arsenal manager also believes the midfielder could yet play a role in the club’s push for the FA Cup and a Champions League place, despite Wilshere not seeing any game-time since suffering a hairline fracture to his left foot during the friendly with Denmark on 5 March. While that would still seemingly leave the 22-year-old short of sufficient matches to develop sharpness ahead of Brazil, Wenger revealed he had already informed England manager Roy Hodgson that would not be the case.

“I told him Wilshere will be available for England,” the French coach said. “He will be just polished for England.   I think that he [Hodgson] will pick him. I didn’t feel any doubt on that front.

“He has started to jog again this week. I would say [Wilshere will return in] two to three weeks. He could be back for the [end of the season], maybe before.”

Wenger also believes this latest recovery will see Wilshere finally overcome the recurring injuries that have frustratingly hampered his career.

“I hope he has stabilised now. We have seen with [Leo] Messi recently, who is the best player in the world, that being in and out is the most difficult thing to deal with, as you need to be competitive, and to be competitive is to be always in the competition.

“He has been [stop-start] this year and last season. I think we have sorted out the problem and I hope from now on he will be always available.

“He can be the positive surprise [at the World Cup].”

Wenger maintains it is only injuries such as Wilshere’s that have extended the gap between Arsenal and the title challengers.

“If you look at teams like Liverpool, we beat them twice this season and Liverpool benefited from a season where they played only the Premiership, not any other game. If you take the injuries plus all the competitions we have played in and compared it to Liverpool you cannot say that we are miles behind them.

“We had injuries together in the same area, as we had Wilshere, [Aaron] Ramsey, [Mesut] Özil, [Theo] Walcott all out together. I think no matter how many players you add to the team you have a problem. You see Yaya Touré  has not played [on Wednesday] at [Manchester] City and everyone said, ‘Yaya has not played’ [as a reason for the 2-2 draw with Sunderland] but he is just one player. We had four or five players out in the same area.”

Hull City v Arsenal is live on  Sky Sports 1, kick-off 2.05pm