Wilshere will play this season insists Wenger

Arsenal manager upbeat on midfielder's fitness and predicts possible Euro 2012 role

Arsène Wenger is confident that Jack Wilshere will play again this season. The Arsenal manager said yesterday that the England midfielder's participation at the European Championship is a "possibility".

Wilshere has not played all season, after undergoing surgery on his right ankle last September. Two months ago he developed another stress fracture in his heel, holding back his progress and jeopardising his chances of playing this season. But the 20-year-old has returned to light training, and Wenger was noticeably upbeat about it yesterday afternoon.

"Wilshere is back with the ball and for us that is a huge step," Wenger said. "The work we do with the ball is always quite demanding. Today we can say if all goes well now, in three weeks he will be back with the squad. Then another two weeks to get fit."

Five more weeks of recovery would see Wilshere returning in May, with two weeks of Premier League football left, but Wenger believed he could do it: "I think he will play this season if he has no setbacks now. His last scan was positive, he should be capable to play. The next three weeks will decide how well he progresses. We have gone for a very cautious attitude with him. We will not force him into training with any pain. So we might have to be slower than expected."

Should Wilshere return, there will be an inevitable clamour for his inclusion at the European Championship. Wenger, not always enthusiastic about international football, did not rule out his participation, providing he has played enough club football to recover his sharpness.

"That's a decision fortunately that I don't have to make," Wenger said. "I will only intervene if I believe medically he is at risk. He is an England player. If he has played some games before the end of the season it is a possibility. If he has not played at all before the end of the season I don't think it's realistic."

The Arsenal manager was less keen, though, about the prospect of Wilshere playing at the Olympic Games, the final of which ends one week before the start of the next Premier League season. "The Olympics destroys the start of the season for us," Wenger said. "If he could play I would rather him go to the Euros."

Wenger paid tribute yesterday to the resilience of Fabrice Muamba, the Arsenal academy graduate who is recovering from a cardiac arrest suffered last Saturday when playing for Bolton Wanderers at Tottenham Hotspur. "It was obvious he was a fighter," Wenger said of his encounters with a young Muamba. "Technically he was behind when he arrived here. When you looked at him, you would think, 'Oh, there is something he has to work on here' and that was his huge determination and desire.

"Today we are in a better mood than one week ago," Wenger said. "I am not a medical specialist and do not know if he will play football again, but the most important thing is that he recovers fully and completely. Afterwards hopefully we will have the joy to see him on the football pitch again."

Arsenal host Aston Villa this afternoon, hoping to win a seventh straight league game for the first time since October 2007. While Wenger is delighted with the transformation, he was keen yesterday to manage expectations, especially about potentially challenging the Manchester sides next season.

"Let's see how we finish," Wenger said. "We have big games coming up. If we maintain consistency until the end of the season we can think like that. If we don't drop any more [points] I would say that we can come to that conclusion."

The situation is the opposite of last season, when Arsenal started well before fading in the new year. "We are more on the way up mentally," Wenger explained. "Last year, it was all disappointment after disappointment. We lost the League Cup, Champions League in Barcelona and to Manchester United [in the FA Cup] in 10 days. That is difficult to swallow.

"Nobody wants to finish fifth but even fifth today is not sure," Wenger continued. "We have to be humble, focused and feet on the ground. We have gone through some difficult times during the season."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
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

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?