Jack Wilshere understandably received a standing ovation when he entered the fray against Cologne on Thursday night.
The Hale End graduate had not featured for us since our 3-1 win at Watford back in August 2016, but returned from an injury sustained while on loan at Bournemouth last season to help us secure three points in our Europa League opener.
Now fully fit, Wilshere is set to feature against Doncaster Rovers on Wednesday, and Arsene Wenger says the England midfielder is ready to get his career back on track in north London.
“Jack has been consistent in training,” the manager said. “If you ask me is he back to his full, 100 per cent potential, I would say no, but he’s not far away. The rest now can only be gained by competition.
“That’s why I believe that these kind of games are very important for Jack at the moment. He is focused, he is working hard and he is absolutely determined to get his place back in the team. There is a big fight there and that’s what we want.
“Jack deals with the pressure very well. He always had that from a very young age but I would say that overall he is more patient now. He got a few knocks and bruises that build a man and at the start it was all very easy for him.
“Jack has gone through some tough times so he has that density, that fitness now of a man who knows that life is not only easy. You have as well to go through some difficult periods and he has always had a football brain. Jack understands football very well, but I would say he’s a much more mature man today. He had always common sense Jack, but he had an impulsive character.”
Many critics have attributed Wilshere’s injuries to his provocative dribbling style, but Wenger has dismissed claims that the 25-year-old should change how he plays.
“I don’t think you can get that out, because that’s part of your pride,” the manager said. “Your pride is part of your game and I don’t think he will ever lose that. He will never accept to lose a ball, but that’s part of a good football player. What I think is that for him it’s important now that he stays a long period without having any setbacks.
“It’s a dream for all of us. I gave Jack his start at 17 years of age. That means I am convinced. You have to be convinced to play a boy at 17 years of age, that he is a special player. He is a special player, but we are all the same in that you need health to work. I need health to work and a football player needs to be healthy to play.”
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