Wilshere on course for Arsenal return at Easter

 

Jack Wilshere is still pencilled in to play some part in Arsenal's season with a return to the first team provisionally scheduled by the club for next month, although Arsène Wenger refused once again yesterday to put a timescale on the midfielder's comeback.

Despite a series of set-backs in recovering from surgery on what was originally a stress fracture to his right ankle, Arsenal are privately hopeful that he will be back in around two to three weeks, leaving him with potentially just five games in which to stake a claim to a place in the England squad for the European Championships.

Wilshere, 20, has not featured at all this season and Saturday will mark eight months since he limped out of a friendly against New York Red Bulls at the Emirates with what scans later revealed was a stress fracture. He had surgery in September but his potential return date has consistently been pushed back to the extent that time is running out if he is to play for England this summer.

Wenger, whose team play Everton at Goodison Park tonight, said yesterday that there are no long-term fears over Wilshere but that it remained impossible to say when he would be in a position to return to first-team action. After a set-back in Wilshere's rehabilitation at the end of January, Wenger said then that he was still certain the player would be back in time to play at Euro 2012.

Arsenal's last five games are against Wigan, Chelsea, Stoke, Norwich and West Bromwich Albion. Wenger said yesterday: "It is difficult to set a deadline on Jack. We go week by week with him, but his last scan was very good so we don't have worry any more. It is about progress and fitness, however I can't set a date."

Aside from Wilshere and the long-term injured Emmanuel Frimpong, Wenger has remarkably few injury concerns. Abou Diaby played an hour for the reserves and scored against Liverpool yesterday and should be back in contention for Saturday's game against Aston Villa.

Otherwise, only Per Mertesacker and Francis Coquelin were not in contention for the 18-man squad that travelled to Liverpool yesterday. Arsenal have won their last five Premier League games and, if Tottenham draw at home to Stoke tonight, Wenger's team could reclaim third place with a win at Goodison.

Wenger said the team had gone through a lot of "negative experiences" last season and once they had ceased to be title challengers they had settled for a place in the top four. He said that this season, the challenge of potentially losing out on the Champions League places had galvanised his team.

He said: "[Last season] We were in four different competitions and we were knocked out in three [Champions League, FA Cup, Carling Cup] in the space of two weeks. You are only human beings.

"On top of that some results were really going against us, when you think about the last minute against Liverpool at home [Dirk Kuyt's late penalty], you think about Tottenham when we were up [and drew 3-3]. These two results killed the hope we had to play for the championship and from then on we felt, subconsciously, too secure that we were in the top four anyway. Once you don't go for the championship anymore it's different.

"This season it's completely different, we were completely out of the top four, we have come into it on a good run and now of course it is taking advantage of that momentum.

"It is so fragile that it is just down to the next performance. Therefore that is what you want to focus on. We had a little bit of a breather because we could come out of the Newcastle game and not play for nine days. It is important for us to focus again and keep the momentum going. We are in a good, positive momentum. We have created some ... but now it is focusing on the next run to keep that going."

Tonight marks the first return to Goodison for Mikel Arteta since he signed for Arsenal from Everton on the last day of the summer transfer window. "He [Arteta] always gives you a certain level of quality," Wenger said. "He is always 100 per cent focused and committed and that's what you want from a real professional."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat