“He’s got a few knocks and bruises that build a man.”
Those are the words Arsène Wenger used to describe Jack Wilshere after the England midfielder made his return from injury against Cologne last month.
The 25-year-old has had to fight back from injuries several times since breaking into the first team aged 16, but agrees with Wenger that his experiences on the sidelines have helped him mature as a person and a player.
“When I first broke into the first team, even looking back when I was 16, you take things for granted,” he told Arsenal Player. “I was training every day and when you’re a 16-year-old, you can do that.
“As you get older your body changes, you pick up injuries, you have to be more careful with certain situations and it makes you stronger as well. I’ve always loved playing football and that’s what I wanted to do.
“Of course there’s been times when it’s been tough, when you’re injured and you wake up in the morning, you think ‘Oh I’ve got to go to training, all the other lads are training, you’ve got to go to the gym’. That makes you stronger and it makes you appreciate it more and try and do everything you can to keep fit and keep on the pitch.”
Although Wilshere has only started two games since, against Doncaster Rovers and BATE Borisov, he can see the familiar signs that indicate he is getting back to his best.
“I always hear the boss say it is my first five-metre burst, when I receive the ball and to get away from defenders and I feel that’s getting better and better each day,” he said. “I feel like the way to improve that is in games when you’re playing against opposition that want to win and want to win the ball back and you have to be able to keep the ball.
“That’s coming back and my fitness levels, if I’m honest, are probably the best they’ve ever been. I look at my numbers after the game and I’ve been out for four months and I’m not the one who hasn’t run the most. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t run the most, we’ve got a lot of players that do that, but my numbers are good so I’m happy.”
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