Premier League

Wenger admits rushing Wilshere back

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere's career has been blighted by injury.
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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits he rushed Jack Wilshere back too soon - but will take no more chances with the fitness of the England star.

Wilshere made his first appearance since the start of March when he played an hour of the 3-1 Barclays Premier League win over Norwich at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, but lacked his usual dynamic drive at the heartbeat of the team.

The 21-year-old's recovery from any injury lay-off, the latest a minor ankle problem, is always carefully monitored given he spent the whole of the 2011/2012 campaign on the sidelines.

Wenger insists he will not gamble on Wilshere's fitness again as Arsenal look to continue their winning streak at home to Everton tomorrow night.

"I rushed Jack back a bit. He was not completely ready," Wenger said on Arsenal Player.

"How careful have I to be? To listen well to the medical advice and that is what I have to do, use him when everything is all right and listen to him as well, how he feels.

"Jack has been out for six weeks, so maybe it was a bit too rushed, what I did.

"I will get advice from the medical department and how he feels as well and as well use my experience and the fact I know him very well.

"He practices with me since he was 16, so I know quite well how his body responds to things."

With Czech playmaker Thomas Rosicky fit again after his hamstring problem, Wilshere could well find himself on the bench on Tuesday night.

Wenger added: "We play again on Saturday, so it is important to make the right decisions and find the right balance in the team because all these players are super quality.

"You must keep the spirit and overall focus of everybody. that is the most important thing."

Wilshere, meanwhile, accepts he probably needs a bit more time to get back to his best.

"I know it was only six weeks, but you still lose your match sharpness and it takes a few games to come," Wilshere said.

"It was frustrating, because I was flying just before I got injured in March. I felt good, confident, and then picked up another injury.

"Things then drag a little and you lose your sharpness, but this time it wasn't anything like as long as the one before, so hopefully this time I can get it back more quickly.

"I needed that game on Saturday - you always need your first one out of the way.

"I wasn't great, I know it myself, I am better than that but you need just to get that first game in so that your sharpness and understanding come back."

As well as deciding how best to utilize Wilshere against the Toffees - who could re-ignite their own top-four ambitions with victory tomorrow - Wenger also has to look at whether center-back Per Mertesacker will return straight into the side after his suspension or if captain Thomas Vermaelen retains his place.

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Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, meanwhile, is a major doubt because of a rib injury, so Wojciech Szczesny could be handed a recall.

"He is handling the situation very well and in a positive way," said Wenger, who dropped the Poland international for the Champions League win in Bayern Munich on March 13.

"I have total confidence, no matter who starts the game (in goal).

"In the past I have shown that, that I trust these players and trust that no matter who plays, they will show their quality."

The Gunners produced a late rally to come from behind and beat Norwich on Saturday - helped in no small part by a somewhat controversial penalty award on the advice of the assistant referee.

Wenger wants his team fully focused on recording a sixth straight win against David Moyes' well-drilled side.

"Let's make sure it is a very hard game for them and give absolutely everything," he said.

"The best way to deal with that is to play football the way we do it at the moment and continue to focus on that quality of football."

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