Jack Wilshere takes step forward as Arsenal fast-track return from injury


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The Independent Football

Arsenal are trying to arrange a match next week to speed up Jack Wilshere's rehabilitation from injury, as the club believe he is well "on the way back to being the player we know he is".

The England midfielder played his second game for Arsenal Under-21s on Monday night, completing 74 impressive minutes, described by the club's reserve coach, Terry Burton, as a "big improvement", with Wilshere helping to make both goals in a 2-0 win.

There is no Under-21 fixture scheduled for next week, and so the club are trying to arrange something to fill the gap. "We haven't got an Under-21 fixture until a fortnight today," Burton said on Monday night. "But we'll probably try and rearrange a game of some sort next week to keep them going. Obviously I'll speak to the boss about that, but we'll try and fix them another game."

The game would either be a rescheduled Under-21 Premier League game or a friendly, likely to be held at Arsenal's London Colney training ground. Wilshere is training there this week along with the other Arsenal players not on international duty such as Mikel Arteta, Bacary Sagna and Andre Santos.

Wilshere was bright and influential on Monday night against Reading Under-21s, looking visibly sharper than he had in his return at West Bromwich Albion the previous Monday, when he played 62 minutes.

"It was a big improvement on his first one in terms of his fitness," Burton said afterwards. "He looks to be on the way back to being the player we know he is. We'd always said that we were trying to build on what he had last time, so we've achieved that. That's what these games are about really, to get him his match fitness."

Wilshere played a perfect reverse pass to Thomas Eisfeld, who set up Serge Gnabry's opening goal, before Wilshere's corner was flicked on by Ignasi Miquel and finished by Chuba Akpom.

"Those are the things that will please him," said Burton. "Because he's that kind of player, isn't he, that wants to be creative and make things happen."

"The plan was to let him drop deep and get on the ball so he was getting his touches and getting people making contact with him. He always uses his body really well when he goes past people."

The tackling was rather robust but Wilshere came out unscathed, and Burton had no worries about his involvement: "I think he's a sensible enough player. He only knows one way – if the ball's there to go for I think he'll go for it. And I think you'll be doing him an injustice if you started saying to him, 'Hold out of something' or 'Go into this'. He'll see the game and he'll react accordingly. He needs that contact [from opponents]. So, good, as long as it's done fair and square then we don't mind."

"Everybody's keeping their fingers crossed, everybody's happy at the moment."