Jack Wilshere returns to Arsenal training three days early as he looks to put criticism over smoking pictures behind him ahead of pivotal season

Wilshere's place in the Arsenal starting line-up could come under serious scrutiny this season and the midfielder faces a battle to prove his future lies at the Emirates

England midfielder Jack Wilshere has returned to Arsenal training three days ahead of schedule, just days after being heavily criticised for being pictured smoking and drinking in a swimming pool while on a holiday in Las Vegas.

Wilshere was spotted enjoying an off-season break along with England team-mates Joe Hart and James Milner, but pictures quickly emerged showing the 22-year-old smoking a cigarette – the second time he has been seen doing so in nine months.

Ahead of what could be a pivotal season in his career, Wilshere posted on his Instagram account that he was back at Arsenal’s training base head of Monday’s scheduled return date, and posed alongside his international team-mate Theo Walcott to confirm the winger was nearing a return from the knee injury that ruled him out of the World Cup.

Sitting alongside Walcott, Wilshere said: “1st day back was tough, not going to lie! But look who's back in his boots! #TJW #29Days #WilshWillBeReady @theowalcott.”

Wilshere faces a season that could define how his Arsenal career will play out. While Aaron Ramsey shone throughout last season – although he was hampered by a near-four month lay-off with a thigh injury – Wilshere found himself on the fringes of the first-team, and Arsenal’s transfer business this summer could see him fall down the pecking order further.

The Gunners have been linked with Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira, and wit Ramsey joining the likes of Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky and a fit-again Abou Diaby also available, Wilshere could struggle to cement down a regular spot in Arsene Wenger’s side. He also suffered a number of niggling injuries, the worst of which saw him break a bone in his foot during England’s international friendly against Denmark in March that ruled him out for over six weeks and threatened to scupper his World Cup hopes.

He returned to fitness to travel to Brazil, but only played 90 minutes as he came off the bench in the 2-1 defeat to Italy and played 73 minutes in the dead-rubber draw against Costa Rica, with the Three Lions’ group stage elimination ending their campaign at the earliest possibility.

 

Arsenal supporters will be keen to see Walcott back in action in the new season, having lost the influential winger to a serious knee injury during the 2-0 FA Cup third round victory over North London rivals Tottenham.

The 25-year-old ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, but famously displayed the scoreline to irate Spurs fans as he was carried off the pitch on a stretcher, with a number or projectiles thrown at Walcott as a result.

Read more: Debuchy completes £12m move to Arsenal
Wenger hails 'perfect' signing Debuchy
Puma to unveil three new Arsenal kits every season

“The knee is going really well,” said Walcott, who has so far refused to put a date on a comeback. “I am doing some good stuff with the physios and fitness coaches and we have worked really hard throughout the summer.

“Things are looking really good and I have worked very hard for the last five months now.

Walcott angered Spurs fans with this hand gesture Walcott angered Spurs fans with this hand gesture “The most important thing is getting the strength back and it has pretty much healed – it is just about building up that stability and strength again. It is coming along nicely and I am really pleased.”

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project