Jack Wilshere set to play match for Arsenal on Monday as full return moves closer

  • @simonrice

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will play for the first time since July 2011 when he features for the London club's under-21 side on Monday.

It will be the latest step in the 20-year-old's recovery process as he moves closer to a return to the Gunners' first team.

Speaking today ahead of Arsenal's Premier League clash with Chelsea on Sunday, manager Arsene Wenger expressed the importance, and his delight at the return of Wilshere.

"It's massive for him to come back," he said. "When you are out for so long, it's massive to take. It is fantastic for him."

Wilshere has not played a competitive game for 14 months after suffering a serious ankle injury that has been dogged by setbacks. Yet Wenger has said he always had confidence Wilshere would return.

"I always thought he would come back. Wilshere has had ups and downs. He was focused, especially in the last three months," said Wenger.

Wilshere began training again with the first team last week and it is expected he will return to action with the senior side at some point next month, although Wenger continues to be protective, and insists the return of his midfielder will not be rushed.



"We have to be a bit cautious. We need to manage him well. He needs a few games in the reserves."

That also applies to a return to the England set-up, with Wenger saying the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland "will be too early for him".