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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Wenger: Wilshere's chance to shine in Europa

Arsenal v Cologne Live BT Sp 2, KO 8.05pm

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere. Photo: Reuters
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere. Photo: Reuters

Arsene Wenger believes Jack Wilshere can get back to his best for Arsenal as he prepares to play his first game for the club in over a year.

The 25-year-old is in line to face Cologne as the Gunners begin their Europa League campaign at home this evening - 383 days since he last wore an Arsenal shirt in the win at Watford last season.

Wilshere has struggled with injuries in recent years and spent most of last season on loan at Bournemouth in an effort to prove his fitness and ability to Wenger.

The Arsenal boss remained unconvinced and admitted during the transfer window that he had not decided whether to seek a similar loan move for Wilshere, whose contract expires next summer.

But Wilshere stayed and, having returned to full training following a fractured leg suffered towards the end of his time with Bournemouth, the England international is now expected to come back into the Arsenal side.

Wenger handed Wilshere his debut at the age of 16 and reckons the midfielder can still return to the days when he was regarded as one of the brightest talents in European football.

“His game, you have certainly seen the video of him when we played against Barcelona, his game is about that,” Wenger said, highlighting a particularly impressive display against the Catalan giants in 2011.

“He needs a little burst to get away from people because he can turn the game forward, and if you can turn the game forward you need your legs to get you out of pressure and that will come back - it is coming back in training as well.

“He is very hungry and sharp. As well, he is not completely at his best, but he is getting there every week. He enjoys being back and competing for his place and what I see in training is positive.”

Asked if he can get back to his best, Wenger replied: “Yes, if he is injury-free he will come back.” Despite a history of injury problems, mostly concerning his fragile ankle, Wenger believes there are positives Wilshere can take from so many lay-offs if he has the right mentality to do so.

“The disadvantage is of course that he was out of the game for a long time, but there are advantages as well,” he said.

“Because he knows his body well, he has become very professional and learnt how much time it takes to get back to his best, so he is more patient.

“Some just come back like nothing happened to them, some are traumatised for their whole life.”

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