Jack Wilshere is not yet ready to return to first-team action and will miss Arsenal’s clash with West Brom on Sunday. The midfielder has been absent since fracturing a bone in his left foot during England’s friendly against Denmark at the start of the March.
It was expected that he would take six weeks to recover and a further two weeks to get up to fitness. Yet Wenger confirmed that Wilshere was “not ready yet,” for Sunday’s fixture at the Emirates in which Arsenal could seal their Champions League place for next season. Speaking ahead of Monday’s win over Newcastle United, Wenger explained that he was refusing to take any chances over a player who has had several injury problems during his young career.
“I don't want to rush his fitness. If he wants to come back he needs to be fully fit, for that I believe it is very important that we don't rush him,” he said, according to Sky Sports.
“We want to do the basic work on his stamina so he can support the demands of the Premier League and the World Cup. This time we will take the needed time to build the basic fitness up on a very strong level.”
Wilshere will now just have a maximum of the last Premier League game of the season away at Norwich and the FA Cup final against Hull City before heading off to the World Cup. But England manager Roy Hodgson commented this week that he is not concerned about the 22-year-old’s fitness.
“Jack Wilshere has been training for the Arsenal team for a while," Hodgson said, according to ESPN. "I spoke to Arsene, who said he was holding him back.”
Hodgson is also confident of being able to call upon Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. However Wenger was unable to put a timescale on the return of a player who has been out with a groin injury suffered two weeks ago.
“Alex is in treatment at the moment and not in training,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “It's very difficult to give you a time-scale on him at the moment.”
Kieran Gibbs will similarly miss out on Sunday, although remains on course to return before the end of the campaign after being absent with a hamstring injury since the FA Cup semifinal three weeks ago.
“Gibbs will be a bit short for Sunday,” Wenger added. “The good news is that he's back in fitness training but he is not back in the full training group yet.”
Although Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby also remained sidelined, Arsenal’s injury situation remains far more positive than it was just a few weeks ago. In particular, the returns of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil have given the side a major boost and played a part in a run of three straight Premier League wins.
Arsenal now have a four-point lead over Everton for the final Champions League place and need a maximum of three points to seal their place in the competition for the 17th consecutive season.