After close to five months on the sidelines, Jack Wilshere is ready to return to action for Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger said. Wilshere has not played for the first team since suffering a left ankle injury in a defeat to Manchester United last November that left him requiring surgery.
His comeback was delayed by undergoing a second procedure in February but, after an appearance for an Arsenal XI last week, the midfielder played the full 90 minutes as an overage player in Arsenal Under-21’s win over their Stoke counterparts Tuesday. The returning Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby also got some game time in the contest, and all three could now be involved when Arsenal travels to Burnley on Saturday.
“They came through well,” Wenger said at his pre-match news conference Thursday. “They were at a good level physically and they should all be available from now on until the end of the season, hopefully. Everybody can have a big impact until the end of the season, Jack included. [Whether he can make an impact straight away] depends on the game, depends on fitness and depends on availability and the need of the team.”
Speaking after the match in midweek, Wilshere explained that he was eager to play a part in Arsenal’s end to the season and especially its FA Cup semifinal against Reading at Wembley next weekend.
“You can train as much as you like but you can’t get that match fitness unless you play,” Wilshere told Arsenal’s official website. “In the Premier League you know how quick it is so you have to get back to that speed.
“I feel like I’m ready to play some part. When you’re injured you look at your comeback date and the games around that time. The one that stands out is the FA Cup semifinal but even before that we’ve got big games and we’ve got to go to Man United as well so there’s a chance to play this season.”
Mathieu Debuchy missed out on getting more minutes for the U-21s in his comeback, with Arsenal’s allocation of three overage players already taken up. But Wenger confirmed that the French right-back was also ready to play his part for the first team, having been out since January with a dislocated shoulder.
Arsenal does, though, have one new injury worry. Defender Laurent Koscielny suffered a groin problem and had to be withdrawn during the 4-1 victory over Liverpool last weekend. And, while the issue is seemingly not serious, the France international, who was hampered by an Achilles injury earlier in the season, remains a doubt for the trip to Turf Moor.
“Koscielny will have a test today to see how far we can go with him,” Wenger said. “He had a scan yesterday that looks quite good, but the real test will be outside today.”
Wenger sounded more positive that goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will be available after a bruised rib meant he missed out on the squad last week. But the Polish goalkeeper is likely to continue to play second fiddle to David Ospina, regardless. Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains “at least two more weeks” away from a return from the hamstring injury he picked up against Manchester United in their FA Cup quarterfinal a month ago.