Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Monday March 26 2012
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has urged caution as to the possibility of an imminent Jack Wilshere return. With the British press dribbling maniacally on the subject in every press conference ("how can we build him up and destroy him again when he`s not even playing?") Wenger has said that Arsenal "go day by day2 with the situation.
Wilshere picked up a stress fracture of the ankle playing for England against Switzerland last June at Wembley. Following a pre season of rest, Arsenal`s medical staff felt the problem might heal alone. In his exuberance and desire to play, young Jack concealed the fact that he still felt pain from the medics until the Emirates Cup in late July. He hasn`t played since, with Arsene admitting last summer that Wilshere had been playing "in the red zone" for the last few weeks of last season.
Injuries to Fabregas, Diaby, Ramsey and Denilson for prolonged periods led to the youngster playing more football than had been planned. In hindsight, that probably accounted for his stress fracture. On the flipside, one can well imagine what the reaction from Arsenal and England fans would have been had Jack been rested at the time. The 20 year old had been due to return in January, but suffered a setback, meaning he has still yet to kick a ball in anger this season.
But the manager thinks there is still a chance he could participate, "Wilshere is back with the ball and for us that is a huge step,' he 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. I don`t have to hold him back yet because at the moment he suffers a lot for fitness. But after three weeks we`ll have to.
'I think he will play this season if he has no setbacks now. His last scan was positive, so he should be capable to play.'
Personally, I wouldn`t be surprised if the situation panned out to be the same as with Thomas Vermaelen last season, with Jack making a few sub appearances towards the end of the season. But of course, that raises the thorny issue as to whether Wilshere will be ready for England`s Euro 2012 campaign. Arsene seemed calm on the subject. Indeed, if he hasn`t played much football for Arsenal this season, a summer tournament wouldn`t be as damaging from our point of view as it might otherwise be; "That`s a decision fortunately I don`t have to make,' he said. 'I will only intervene if I believe medically he is at risk.
'He is an England player and if he has played some games before the end of the season it is a possibility [for him to go to Euro 2012]. If he has not played at all before the end of the season I don`t think it`s realistic.
'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. If all goes well he will be back in full training in three weeks. But that is not sure yet.'
On the subject of the Olympics however, Arsene was decidedly surlier, "The Olympics destroys the start of the season for us. If he could play, we'd rather he went to the Euros than the Olympics,' he said. Rightly so too, considering the Olympics is supposed to be an event for amateurs, I`m not quite sure how football has come to play such a big part. I`d imagine because the likes of FIFA coin it in significantly. In any case, I think we`d have every right to demand a player we`ve developed since the age of 9 and have just spent a year treating be available to actually play in our own games once he is fit.
Date:Monday March 26 2012
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