His manager, Arsène Wenger, says he will return from his 14-month lay-off without the mental scars that are usually associated with long-term injuries.
Wenger insisted that Wilshere was only “80 per cent” match fit and would not
be rushed back into the first team, despite playing the full 90 minutes for
But he said that the player had shown no “apprehension” about going into challenges since returning to action. This is a marked contrast to Eduardo and Aaron Ramsey, two Arsenal players whose broken legs caused as much psychological as physical damage.
Indeed, such is Wilshere’s eagerness to get involved that he has at times needed to be reined in when challenging for the ball, for fear of aggravating the persistent ankle problem that forced him to miss the whole of last season.
“There are two things after a serious injury,” Wenger said. “You have apprehension, because many times it is linked. In your memory you have a moment where you have been hit and you will try to avoid getting in the same position again.
“For example, if you protect the ball and somebody tackles you from behind and kills your knee, when you come back it will be difficult to protect the ball in the same position. People may not notice but many times the player does not get in that position where he has been vulnerable.
“The second problem with Eduardo was that he had a restriction of his ankle movement, which is a massive problem for a football player. Jack has none of that – he has not been injured in a specific tackle. He had a stress fracture that came slowly, so he has no memory of having been injured by anybody.
“There are two aspects [with Wilshere]. One is the apprehension to go into challenges when you have been out for so long. On that front we are at 100 per cent. We even have to calm him down. Then you have the match fitness; he is 80 per cent.”
Despite Wilshere’s belief that he is ready for first-team football, he is not
expected to feature against
Instead, he is likely to play one more game for the under-21s against Everton
on Monday night, before a probable comeback appearance in the Capital One
Cup against Reading eight days later. This would put him in contention for
Arsenal’s following match, against
But Wenger insisted that the final say on when Wilshere returned would be his alone. “It’s not up to him to know that,” he said. “His job is to play. Players always think they are ready, and when you speak with them six months later and ask ‘Do you think now you were ready?’, they will say no.”
Stuart Pearce has expressed an interest in taking Wilshere to the European Under-21 Championship next summer, a move Wenger described as “premature”. He saw England’s over-reliance on Wilshere as symptomatic of their poverty of midfield options.
“The fate of the country is never to turn round to one player,” he said.
“If you have to wait until one player comes back, that means something is wrong. That for me is the biggest problem you have in England. Even a player like Arteta doesn’t get called up for Spain. Once you have a problem like that in England, you will not need to go bonkers for anybody.”