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Thursday 14 December 2017

Wenger: Wilshere injured but Giroud and Walcott near return

Jack Wilshere has been added to Arsenal's lengthy injury list but Arsene Wenger is hoping to welcome back Olivier Giroud "miles ahead of schedule" in the coming weeks.

Wilshere is likely to miss tomorrow's Premier League clash with Burnley at the Emirates Stadium due to a knee problem and is also a doubt to face Anderlecht in midweek.

But France striker Giroud, who fractured his foot against Everton in late August, is on course to rejoin training next month despite having initially been ruled out until the New Year.

"Olivier is miles ahead of schedule. He's doing very well," Wenger said.

"He's three weeks ahead of schedule and he will join normal training after the international break. Of course it's a big boost."

Arsenal have lost Giroud, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, David Ospina, Yaya Sanogo, Abou Diaby and Mathieu Debuchy to a variety of ailments and now Wilshere has joined their ranks.

Wenger insists the problem is minor and has penciled in the England midfielder to return against Swansea on Sunday week.

SHORT TERM

"There is a slight problem with Wilshere. I don't think he'll be available against Burnley," Wenger said.

"It's very, very short term. He got a kick on his knee. I don't know if Anderlecht on Tuesday will be too early or not. He's not training at the moment. Certainly Swansea, yes."

England winger Theo Walcott has been sidelined since January with a serious knee problem, but Wenger will not rush him back against Burnley despite having made his comeback in the reserves.

"Theo is not ready yet. He's been out for too long to start the game. If I can give him some competition I'm happy to do it," Wenger said.

"He's eager to play, but that is always the period when the patience of the player is tested.

"They feel ready and want to play. Usually they realise only much later they are not completely ready.

"I know Theo very well. He's an intelligent player so he knows as well that he's not completely there yet."

Arsenal are targeting a third successive victory when they host Burnley with a three-point haul potentially lifting them into the top four.

A nine-point gap has opened up on Premier League leaders Chelsea and while Wenger refuses to concede the title race, he knows it will take a sustained assault to make up the ground on Jose Mourinho's team.

"I don't write us off, let other people do that, but Chelsea are in a strong position at the moment," Wenger said.

"I believe it would not be realistic to just think now that we'll catch Chelsea very quickly.

"We have to get consistent results to have a chance of coming back.

"I'm more focused on the quality of our games and on the consistency of our results before we think about coming back on Chelsea."

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