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
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam