Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Jack Wilshere can put his latest injury setback behind him to play a major part this season after it was confirmed the England midfielder needed surgery to fix a hairline fracture in his left leg.
Wilshere, 23, has battled through a string of fitness issues which have halted his progress in recent campaigns. Following further medical examinations on an injury suffered in pre-season, the decision has now been taken that an operation is needed to properly correct the problem which will see a small plate inserted into the bone, and a rehabilitation time of around three months.
Wenger, who is already without forward Danny Welbeck until at least Christmas following knee surgery, moved to allay fears over Wilshere’s long-term recovery prospects.
Speaking in Croatia ahead of the Champions League Group F opener against Dinamo Zagreb, the Arsenal boss said: “Like every player, he wants to play football and he is disappointed, but he has shown in the past he can deal with that. I think he was determined to do it quickly and come back as quickly as possible.
“We are still at the start of the season. We are now mid-September, so after three months – mid-December – he can be back. There is still a long way to play after.
“This kind of injury is not a kind of injury which can damage your career. It is just a bone that did not heal well.
“They need to put a little clip in. That is nothing major, not a career-threatening injury.” Wenger had initially indicated Wilshere would be out for a matter of weeks, and had been pencilled in for a comeback following the international break.
He said: “I am not a bone specialist, so I would not like to give too many details. I have been explained the situation, but I leave that to the medical people. There is nothing malicious in there, just a part of his bone that has not healed.”
When Wilshere eventually returns to first-team action, he could have well missed around 1,000 days of football in total.
Wenger, though, rejected suggestions that should be an on-going concern.
“When you are injured and you come back, you always go through a vulnerable period, where you need to strengthen your body again, to gain competition,” he said.
“I think he is young enough to get over that and I hope his body will stabilise, I am confident he will and that he can make a career his talent deserves.”
Arsenal travelled to Zagreb without midfielder Aaron Ramsey and full-back Hector Bellerin, who are rested. Centre-back Per Mertesacker, who was involved in a minor road traffic crash earlier this week, also stayed in London to continue his recovery from a virus.
Dinamo have now not lost in a formidable run of some 41 matches but have never previously qualified for the knock-out stages.
Wenger said: “Croatian football produces always top level technical quality, that is their strength.
“We have to focus on our own performance and to beat them have to play at our best and without speculating on any weak link in a team that has not lost a game for 11 months.”
For his part, Dinamo manager Zoran Mamic has warned his side have no intention of giving the Gunners an easy ride tonight.
“Arsenal are a top-quality team — better than us — but our aim is not to sit back and defend,” Mamic said.
“We will try to pose them problems.
“We have been playing a style of game for the whole season, so to change just for one match is not good, so it will be our desire to play the same way tomorrow.”
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