Jack Wilshere injury played down by Arsene Wenger after problem ankle inflames

 

Arsene Wenger has played down fears over Jack Wilshere's fitness after the Arsenal midfielder suffered inflammation to the ankle which kept him out of action for more than a year.

Wilshere was left out of the Gunners starting line-up for the goalless draw at Aston Villa and was an unused substitute.

But boss Wenger insists it is only a minor problem and is happy with Wilshere's progress since his return to the side, ahead of the midweek clash at Everton.

When asked how the England international was progressing, Wenger said: "First, it's a relief that he's had no setback (since returning to action).

"He had a little bit of inflammation of scar tissue (in the ankle) but it's nothing. It's very minor.

"The rest (against Villa) will help him get rid of it. Apart from that, he has done very well.

"He has not played for 17 months. People forget what that mean. Seventeen months in a career is massive.

"But I'm very happy with the way he is progressing."

Wenger remains convinced winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will develop into "a great player" after he looked below his best at Villa Park.

He said: "Alex has not played a lot recently. He lacks a bit of physical fitness. He tried at Villa and in patches he looked dangerous.

"He's learning his trade and he's a very talented young boy. I believe he will be a great player but at the moment he is learning his job.

"Basically, he's 19 years old and there will be ups and downs, of course, but I believe he will be a great player.

"You need patience with every young player or you don't bring them out (see their potential fulfilled).

"That's why it's so different in our job where you see the demands of people who want you to bring young players out but also they have no patience so it's a bit of a contradiction."

Wenger has promised to spend wisely the extra money available after the extended £150million shirt sponsorship deal with Emirates which was announced on Friday.

He said: "It (the deal) means the people who invest in us believe we are doing things in the right way.

"So it's first a credit in the way we do things and, after that, we will try to use the money intelligently."

Gunners goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny insists ambitions are higher merely than a Barclays Premier League top four finish.

He said: "We are outside the top four so our first target is to reach that top four. But our ambitions are much higher than that.

"We have managed to get a couple of good results recently. We need to climb the table and hopefully do well in the other competitions as well.

"I think in the last two matches before Villa - against Tottenham and Montpellier - offensively we played really well.

"We had a few disappointing performances before that, so it's important we get back to that level and I think we are in a good position to do so."

Szczesny is aware of the importance of the clash at Goodison Park.

He said: "It will be a six-pointer. It will be a very good game for us to win. We managed to get three points last year and it was a really tough match.

"We are confident we can go away from home and dig out the points."

PA

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