Jack Wilshere wants to hold crunch talks with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger ahead of the new Premier League season in order to discuss where he stands in the first team pecking order.
Wilshere played in Arsenal’s straight-forward 4-0 victory over a Singapore Select XI as part of the club’s pre-season tour in the Far East, and he has set his sights on returning to peak fitness following six months out with an ankle injury last season.
One problem for Wilshere when he returned from the injury was the amount of first-team action he was afforded during Arsenal’s run in, with the England midfielder starting just two matches when Arsenal had already secured their top four position.
Speaking after the victory in Singapore, Wilshere said: “I haven’t spoken to the boss [Wenger] about what plans he has for me — but I will do before the start of the season.
“At the moment, I’m just concentrating on getting fit. I had a good end to the season and I just want to keep it going.
“That’s why I wanted to come back in early for pre-season because I felt I missed too much of last season and wanted to give myself the best opportunity to get fit.
“I asked the boss — I said, ‘Boss, can I come back early?’ I wanted that because I missed quite a lot of last season. The competition is strong in midfield so, yes, it’s down to us as individuals to make that place ours but I’m up for the challenge and I’m sure the other boys are as well.”
Wilshere openly identified the problem he faces in that Wenger has a wealth of central midfielders to choose from. Santo Cazorla and Francis Coquelin made the central positions their own that saw the influential Aaron Ramsey shifted out on the right on occasion, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mathieu Flamini are also available to Wenger. Club captain Mikel Arteta is another who can fill the midfield role, but a setback in his recovery from a calf injury is set to keep him on the sidelines for even longer with the Spaniard last playing in November 2014.
Wenger sees Wilshere as a more offensive option to the likes of Coquelin, Flamini and Arteta, and with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez almost certain to start in the advanced front-three that play behind the striker, it leaves the 65-year-old Frenchman with a serious selection dilemma.
“For me, Jack can play in all the offensive positions - wide and central; and we have many good creative players,” Wenger said in Singapore. “They will all tell you they want to play centrally. Unfortunately, some have to go wide as well.
“Jack always had an appetite but he’s been out for a long time. But already in the last two or three games of last season, he has found his burst back. His acceleration.
“For him and Alex, it is a big part of their game. To be efficient, they need that. There are high demands physically to be perfect. Jack is getting close.
“Like Alex, he was injured last year, early in the season and missed five months. The top level is so demanding physical that to be in and out is a nightmare for the players.
“Jack needs continuity.
"After that, we will play so many games [Arsenal have qualified directly for the Champions League's group stage]. We have a big squad but not a massive one. The opportunities will be there for everyone.”
Arsenal face Everton next in the Barclays Asia Trophy final on Saturday, before returning to London for the Emirates Cup where Wolfsburg, Lyon and Villarreal will play out a two-day league tournament before the start of the season.
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