Wenger backs Wilshere to shine after another injury-hit season
Arsene Wenger believes Jack Wilshere will return to action and fulfill his potential at Arsenal despite enduring another injury-hit season.
Wilshere, 23, has returned to the bench in recent weeks after finally recovering first from ankle ligament damage picked up against Manchester United in November, and then minor surgery to removes some studs on the pins in the bone.
It is the latest in a long line of setbacks for the England international, who missed the whole of the 2011/2012 campaign following ankle trouble picked up in a pre-season game.
Wenger, though, is confident Wilshere will continue his development at the club.
"Jack is in front of what we expected him to be," Wenger said.
"What takes a long time and what people underestimate a little bit is that to get back to be capable to play is one thing, but to be back and be capable to be sharp and efficient takes a bit longer.
"Even the players, from the moment they train again fully and the moment they are really back to their level, they are impatient, but it takes much longer than they think to get sharp again.
"In the Premier League it is a fraction of a second that makes you efficient or not.
"Jack plays with freedom as soon as he is back, so I don’t think on that front it will be a problem.
"But he needs now one or two years without problems to really get the full confidence and belief back, and I don’t see why it shouldn’t happen."
Wenger also rubbished suggestions that Wilshere could be tempted away in the summer, with Manchester City reported to be ready to come in with a big-money offer.
The Frenchman, though, has no interest in any sales talk.
He said: "Jack is an Arsenal player. I believe the success of the club in the future years will depend on how well the young players educated here will do, and he is part of that."
Fellow England internationals Danny Welbeck, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott also were named among the substitutes against Chelsea last weekend.
Wenger accepts he now has "25 that are desperate" to play, and says competition for places is now more fierce than ever.
He said: "It is difficult to get in this team, I don’t deny that. If you consider any individual case you can say you are sorry that he doesn’t play."
Arsenal travel to Hull on Monday night looking to keep up the pressure in the battle with Manchester City and Manchester United for second place in the Premier League.
The Gunners also have the FA Cup final at Wembley against Aston Villa to look forward to, but Wenger will not over analyze whether the campaign can be viewed as a success.
"At my age I am not on an ego trip – I just want to do well for my club and go home and think I have given absolutely everything to do well, and after that everyone has to the right to have an opinion," the 65-year-old said.
"After every game we have a tribunal and you have to face the court, and it is (thumbs) up or down, like in Roman times.
"We have to live with that, but at the end of the day, continuity is still important."