AW: Crucial period for Wilshere
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels the next 10 games will show whether Jack Wilshere can last the distance for club and country this season.
England boss Roy Hodgson has wasted no time in bringing Wilshere back into the senior squad, selecting him for next week's friendly in Sweden, despite the combative midfielder only just having returned from a long injury lay-off. Wilshere, 20, spent more than a year on the sidelines because of niggling fitness problems which stem back to an ankle injury initially suffered when winning his fifth cap against Switzerland at Wembley in June 2011. Wilshere was sent off at Manchester United last week, meaning he must serve a suspension for this weekend's Barclays Premier League match with Fulham. While Wenger would rather the midfielder have been completely rested from next week's fixture in Stockholm, the Arsenal manager revealed he had been given assurances by Hodgson over the player's fitness management as everyone looks to guide Wilshere along a crucial stage of his long-term rehabilitation.
"Jack is not completely through yet the big test of durability, but the fact is that he has come out in a positive way from the three first games, which were quite intense," said Wenger, who was at Great Ormond Street Hospital this afternoon along with Wilshere to help open the Arsenal Lung Function Unit.
"The first response is positive. Let's touch wood and hope he gets through well. The next 10 games, of course, will tell you a lot more about that."
Of Wilshere's England recall, Wenger said he "saw it coming". He said:
"I have no choice. If they call him up, they call him up. I have good relations with Roy Hodgson. We spoke about the situation, he knows my feeling and I know his feeling, so we cut a good compromise." Wenger, however, accepts no-one will be able to restrain Wilshere's enthusiasm.
"That's very difficult with Jack. He doesn't hold back. He doesn't know how to do that. I think if he plays him [in Sweden], he will play," said the Arsenal manager.
Midfielder Abou Diaby remains sidelined by a thigh problem, and Wenger revealed the France international was around a month away from a comeback, having been out since the end of September.
"Diaby has not started to jog yet, so from now on it will be at least three weeks to join the squad again and be available for competition," he said.
Along with Wilshere, Arsenal forward Theo Walcott has been included by England again, while defender Carl Jenkinson should also be in the squad provided international clearance comes through as he played for Finland at youth level. Walcott, who has been used mostly as an impact player from the bench this season, took his tally to eight goals with the opening strike in the midweek Champions League draw at Schalke. The player's current deal expires next summer, with his representatives and the club still some distance apart over wages and Walcott also expressing concerns over opportunities in his preferred central role. If no deal can be brokered before January, Walcott would be able to negotiate a potentially lucrative pre-contract agreement with a foreign club or just hold firm and walk away on a free transfer. While Wenger would prefer the situation not to get to that point, the Arsenal manager accepts a line must soon be drawn.
"My desire is to keep Theo. We do what's needed to keep him and hopefully [as] I told you many times, we can sort this situation out very soon - very soon is before the end of December, one way or another, that is for sure," said Wenger.
"I don't want to go into any details [over wage negotiations], but you can believe me [that] we do the maximum we can to keep our best players."
Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is close to a comeback from his ankle problem and could be included in Saturday's squad. Midfielders Aaron Ramsey (groin) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip) face fitness tests.
Related Arsenal News