Thomas Vermaelen has hailed the “world class” Jack Wilshere and emphasised his importance to the Arsenal team.

The England international spent 14 months on the sidelines with ankle and knee injuries, but has made a successful return to action this season.

The 21-year-old was in inspired form in Sunday’s defeat to Manchester City and Vermaelen admits he will be a key figure during a challenging run of fixtures.

“I think Jack did well,” the captain said. “For him and for Abou [Diaby] it was not easy with 10 men, they had to run a lot. Jack did well and he worked hard.

“You can see that since he came back he is growing and growing. And I think at the moment he is at a good level.

“He is a world-class midfielder and he can only get better because he is young, coming back from more than a year out with injury. So I am very confident he will come back really strong.”

Vermaelen was also pleased to see Diaby back in action for the first time since the game against Chelsea on September 29.

“He brings us some physique: he is a strong guy, a strong lad,” he said. “He can play as well, he is technically very strong. I am really happy he is back in the team and I am hopeful [he will be back] for a long time.”

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Rob Kelly 14 Jan 2013