Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Jack Wilshere facing a 'big season', says his Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

Wenger has challenged Wilshere to fulfill his potential

Jack Wilshere is facing a "big season" at Arsenal after his manager Arsene Wenger challenged him to finally realise his potential for the Gunners.

After bursting onto the scene as a dynamic teenager Wilshere has suffered from injury and loss of form, as well as being reprimanded by Wenger after being caught smoking twice.

The 22-year-old missed two months of last season with a broken foot and appeared sluggish on his return - though he made the World Cup squad he only started the final group game when England were already eliminated.

But Wenger has said that Wilshere is looking as good as he has done in pre-season for three years and wants him to live up to his potential.

"This is a big season for Jack but he is in his best pre-season shape for three years," Wenger told The Sun.

"At the top level you need consistent presence. It does not work anymore when you rest for three weeks and then you are fit again - in and out is finished today.

"He is rid of his ankle problems and if he can maintain that I think he will have a great season. But he needs games and I agree that this is a very important season for him."

Wilshere, who apologised after being caught smoking in Las Vegas, has already said during this summer that he needs to "prove himself".

"It does motivate me to try harder in training and not just in training," Wilshere said after the incident last month.

"It motivates me to improve because a lot of people have started to talk [about me] - people who don't know me but want to have an opinion. Now and it is down to me.

"This is a big season for me. I came back early to pre-season to show people my commitment. I am fully committed to the club and to my job and I want to show everyone that."