Jack Wilshere will be back to his best by Christmas, guarantees Arsène Wenger

Arsenal manager says there will be no lasting damage to midfielder after lengthy lay-off

Arsène Wenger insisted yesterday that he is "certain" Jack Wilshere can be an even better player when he returns to the Arsenal first team after an ankle injury. Wilshere's last competitive game for the Gunners was in May 2011 but he returned to full training this week.

When the Arsenal manager was asked if it was possible that Wilshere might return to his former level, his answer was unambiguous. "It is not possible, it is certain," Wenger said. "He will be a better player. If you have this kind of injury at the age of 20 you will take off again and move forward normally. If you have the injury after the age of 25 it is different. At his age it is no problem."

Wilshere is still only 20 years old and Wenger said that he was confident the midfielder would soon put behind him an injury that is not uncommon for players of his age. "He will be an international player and he will have to cope," Wenger said of the time Wilshere has missed. "He is a very strong guy, he had a stress fracture and that happens many times to young players. Between the ages of 18 to 20, 60 per cent of them have stress fractures."

Wenger said that Wilshere's case was different from Eduardo, who was never the same player again after breaking his ankle in 2008. "Eduardo has limitation of his ankle [in its range of motion]," Wenger explained. "Jack has no limitation of his ankle, it was just a fracture. Eduardo had a rupture of his ligaments and in construction they had to tie his ankle up, so once you lose the flexibility of your ankle you are, of course, not the same player. That is not the case for Jack."

Wilshere will train for 10 days before he returns for Arsenal Under-21s, who play at West Bromwich Albion on 1 October and at home against Reading one week later. Wenger said that it may take him some time to reach his old level. "After three months competition for sure he would be back [at his best]," Wenger predicted. "It takes some while to find the little burst again.

"What he's gone through will make him stronger. It's a good test for your mental strength. I always thought he would come back. He has had ups and downs. He was focused, especially in the last three months. We have to be a bit cautious. We need to manage him well. He needs a few games in the reserves."

Wenger was not quite as confident about the future of Theo Walcott, who is in the last year of his contract at Arsenal. The manager suggested that if there was a no new deal before Christmas it would be much harder for him to stay.

"I still hope to sign him," Wenger said of Walcott, "and the next two months will be vital because after that, the longer this situation lasts the more difficult it is. Let's hope we can find a solution in the next two months." Wenger did say that Arsenal could afford to keep him for the rest of the season even if he did not sign a new deal, should they choose to.

Arsenal travel to Manchester City tomorrow afternoon confident after three consecutive wins in all competitions. Lukas Podolski, the Germany forward bought from Cologne this summer, has started to score and Wenger is impressed with him. "He's a very sociable guy, always a smile on his face," Wenger said. "Believe me, he is a clinical finisher. He has experience, he is calm and when he gets a chance, you think that will be a goal."

Changing times: Wilshere's absence

Arsenal line-up when Jack Wilshere last featured: 22 May 2011, Fulham (a) D 2-2 (4-4-2): Szczesny; Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Gibbs (Eboue, 64); Nasri, Diaby (Arshavin, 64), Wilshere, Ramsey (Walcott, 64); Chamakh, Van Persie.

Arsenal line-up in last league game: 15 September 2012, Southampton (h) W 6-1 (4-2-1-3): Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Coquelin (Ramsey, 67); Cazorla; Ox-Chamberlain, Gervinho (Walcott, 74), Podolski (Giroud, 75)

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
Sport
Wayne Rooney talks to the media during a press conference
sport
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
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

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?