Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has confirmed that midfielder Jack Wilshere will miss at least three months of action after undergoing surgery on his ankle. Wilshere, who has been beset by ankle problems in his young career and missed 17 months with a stress fracture to his ankle in 2011, was forced off after a tackle from Manchester United’s Paddy McNair in last weekend’s clash at the Emirates Stadium. The 22-year-old subsequently underwent surgery on Thursday.
“He is very down,” Wenger said of Wilshere at his press conference on Friday. “Jack is a football man who loves the game, but on the other hand, he is a very strong character as well and he has learnt to deal with adversity at a very young age.... We knew he’s prepared, focused to come back and finish the season well. We think he will be back, end of February, beginning of March. He’ll be focused to come back for a strong rehab, and I’m sure he will help us to do well until the end of the season after that.”
After three matches without a win, Arsenal got a welcome fillip in midweek, beating Borussia Dortmund 2-0 to confirm qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League. But the victory, like the defeat to Manchester United that saw Wojciech Szczęsny and Wilshere taken off hurt, also came at the cost of a lengthening of their already sizable injury list, with captain Mikel Arteta and striker Yaya Sanogo picking up problems.
“We have so many knocks after this game that I can only sort it out this morning to see who will be available or not,” he said. “It was a very committed game, we have given a lot in the last two games physically. Szczęsny has not practiced yet, at all. Arteta is for sure out, of course. I think Sanogo has problems as well because I had to take him off. And we have a few other players that we have to check.”
Arteta has suffered a calf strain for the third time this season, meaning he will miss another two to three weeks of action. Olivier Giroud will return to the squad after not having been registered for the Champions League group stage due to an injury that was expected to rule him out until Christmas. And, having made a goal-scoring comeback off the bench against Manchester United, the France international may even be handed a start against West Brom, with Danny Welbeck still a fitness doubt due to knee and hamstring concerns.
“Welbeck will have a test this morning, and he has not practiced yet, I can tell you,” Wenger explained.
Theo Walcott also remains sidelined with an inflamed groin suffered while away on international duty with England earlier this month. There is better news, with Wenger stating that Laurent Koscielny could return to the starting lineup, having been named among the substitutes against Dortmund following a long-term Achilles problem. “If I want him to start, he will start,” Wenger said. Meanwhile, Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina is just one or two weeks away from a return as he recovers from a thigh injury, and Wenger expects to have defender Mathieu Debuchy back in three weeks.