By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger will consider handing Jack Wilshere his comeback on Saturday - but only if he is ready for the Premier League.
The 20-year-old had been earmarked for a return in the Capital One Cup tie at Reading on Tuesday but Wilshere's steady progress since a 14-month lay-off earned him a place in the squad for last weekend's defeat at Norwich.
The England international was not used - "the game was too intense," explained Wenger - and instead got another 90 minutes under his belt for the under-21s on Monday. Now the Arsenal manager must weigh up the pros and cons of starting Wilshere against Queens Park Rangers.
"What I am considering is that he wants to play, it is an important game, but we want the players to be ready physically and he has not played for 14 months," said Wenger.
"It was planned for him to play next week at Reading and also we consider how the squad are physically and mentally. Physically Jack is at 80 to 85 per cent.
"What you have to consider first is that he has no setback and that you don’t put players in situations, when they are tired and don’t have coordination, that they pick up an injury. That is what you look at.
"After if you look at a more selfish view you can say a guy can play an hour. But during this hour it is important that he is fit enough to play. It is true [that you only get to 100 per cent by playing] but at the right time. It is difficult to plan."
Wilshere's own fitness is one major part of the equation. The other is the condition of Wenger's alternatives in midfield. He is without the injured Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky, and may opt to rotate his squad after below-par performances against Norwich and Schalke.
“We were flat physically a little bit on Wednesday night," admitted Wenger. "It is difficult to explain as Schalke had a harder game than us maybe at Dortmund [at the weekend]. Maybe we had not got rid of the disappointment of the Norwich result."
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