By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger believes Jack Wilshere could pull on an Arsenal shirt before the end of the season.
The England midfielder has missed the entire campaign after undergoing surgery in September but he has been making steady progress in recent weeks.
Arsenal will conclude their Premier League schedule with nine games in a little over seven weeks and Wenger thinks Wilshere may feature at some point.
"Wilshere is back with the ball and for us that is a huge step," he said. "The work we do with the ball is always quite demanding.
"Today we can say if all goes well now in three weeks he will be back with the squad. Then another two weeks to get fit. I don’t have to hold him back yet because at the moment he suffers a lot for fitness. But after three weeks we’ll have to.
"I think he will play this season if he has no setbacks now. His last scan was positive, so he should be capable to play."
Wilshere is a key player for his country as well as his club but Wenger is not sure whether the 20-year-old will travel with England to the European Championships in June.
"That’s a decision fortunately I don’t have to make," he said. "I will only intervene if I believe medically he is at risk.
"He is an England player and if he has played some games before the end of the season it is a possibility [for him to go to Euro 2012]. If he has not played at all before the end of the season I don’t think it’s realistic.
"The next three weeks will decide how well he progresses. We have gone for a very cautious attitude with him. We will not force him into training with any pain. So we might have to be slower than expected. If all goes well he will be back in full training in three weeks. But that is not sure yet."
Further down the line there is the prospect of Wilshere being called up for the Great Britain team at the London Olympics. That is a concern for Wenger.
"The Olympics destroys the start of season for us," he said. "If Wilshere could play I would rather he went to the Euros than the Olympics. It depends how well he will develop."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