Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Arsene Wenger backs Jack Wilshere to compete for first-team Arsenal place after impressing in Doncaster win

The midfielder played 90 minutes for Arsenal for the first time in three years during Wednesday night's EFL Cup win

Jack Pitt-Brooke
Emirates Stadium
Wednesday 20 September 2017 23:03 BST
Arsene Wenger said it was important for Wilshere to play the full 90
Arsene Wenger said it was important for Wilshere to play the full 90 (Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger said that Jack Wilshere is nearly ready to be picked to start in bigger games than the Carabao Cup, after completing his first 90 minutes for Arsenal for three years.

Wilshere emerged problem-free from Wednesday night’s game and Wenger said that he is now in the mix to be picked for their next three matches: West Bromwich Albion at home on Monday night, BATE Borisov away in Belarus next Thursday and then Brighton and Hove Albion at home on Sunday 1 October, the last game before the next international break.

The likelihood is that Wilshere will start against BATE Borisov, rather than in the Premier League, but he is closer to serious competition for Arsenal than he has been for years.

“For me he is now available to play, the decision to make is when to play him,” Wenger said after the 1-0 defeat of Doncaster Rovers. “In this kind of game, he needs 90 minutes at that intensity, repeated, and then he will soon be back. You see that in his movement, and after that of course, everyone is looking at him. Everyone expects him to come back to his best, I wish for that as well.”

Wenger did not give any guarantees but Wilshere does not look to be at the level yet to replace the three first-choice midfielders Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny. “We go game-by-game,” Wenger said. “We play three games next week, on Monday, Thursday and Sunday, before the international break. So I will have to make decisions to balance the team to see who I play and when.”

But Wenger was pleased to see Wilshere play the whole game even though he accepted it was not Premier League level quite yet. “I wanted to leave him on to give him 90 minutes, it was the ideal game to give him confidence and fitness, and to see after that how he responds,” Wenger said. “I think you have to put this game into perspective as well. It was not exactly the intensity of a Premier League game, but it was important for him to build up gradually.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in