By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger says Arsenal will go "step by step" with Jack Wilshere's fitness and not set him specific targets during his rehabilitation.
The England midfielder has not played this season after undergoing surgery last September and he was recently ruled out of this summer’s European Championships.
Wilshere has been earmarked as a possible inclusion in the Great Britain Olympics squad but Wenger is only concerned about the 20-year-old regaining full fitness.
"He makes slow progress and at the moment is still in our rehab centre," said the Arsenal manager. "We take time, we are patient with him. He makes progress, but slow progress.
"His focus is to get back on the football pitch and play, there is not one specific target like the Olympics or the European Championships, although he is out of that. His main priority is to get out on the pitch and play football.
"Nothing is definitely set at the moment, because we are in a slow progress world where we go step by step. If we start pre-season at the beginning of July and he is completely fit to join in normal training, then we will see [about the Olympics]. But let’s not forget he has not played for a whole year. To be competitive at the top level it will take him some time to come back and we have to give him that time.
"I am cautious with him," added Wenger. "Imagine you are 20 years old and you play in the national team. You prepare and suddenly, nothing at all.
"You get the first knock, the second knock, you think ‘OK, at least I will be ready for the Euro.’ Then you have to convince him, ‘look my friend, it will not work for the Euros.’ You knock him down again. Then, you set him another target. If he doesn’t make it, he will lose a complete appetite for rehab because it's difficult.
"You must work every day out there, not knowing when you come back. If you say, ‘you can go to the Olympics’ and he doesn’t make it, what do you give him after? Let’s take our time and not set any specific targets. The most important thing for him is to focus on day-to-day work and see if he can get better."
Arsenal's players begin pre-season training in July and Wenger would like Wilshere to be involved. But he knows there are no guarantees.
"I do not want to set the Olympics as a target [for him] because I do not know whether he will be fit to start at the beginning of the season," he said. "It is just our target to get him to improve.
"When we start on July 9, if he can join in then we have won the battle, but that is not guaranteed."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source