- Premier League
Wenger backs Wilshere to bounce back
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has backed midfielder Jack Wilshere to recapture his best form and insists his lengthy injury lay-off will not have a damaging long-term impact on his promising career.
Wilshere returned to training with the Arsenal first-team squad on Thursday after ankle, knee and foot problems kept him on the sidelines for 14 months, but will not be considered for selection in any competitive match until he has come through at least 10 sessions under the eye of the Arsenal coaches.
Yet Wenger is convinced the 20-year-old will soon be back to his best, with his lay-off merely fuelling his desire to reclaim his place as the most promising young player in English football.
"It may have been difficult if Jack had this kind of injury lay-off when he was 25-years-old, but at Jack's age, he can take off and fly again," Wenger said. "Jack is a strong guy physically, but he had a stress fracture in his foot last year and there is nothing you can do with that.
"It's difficult to predict when Jack will be back to his best form, but he will certainly be there after three months. I have no doubt he will be back to where he was before."
Wenger insists Wilshere's injury nightmare is different to that of his former striker Eduardo, who suffered a horrific ankle break back in 2008 and struggled to rediscover his old form on his return.
"Jack's problem has been different to Eduardo as he has not lost any of the flexibility in his ankle," Wenger said. "When you lose some flexibility in a joint, then it can make it difficult to be at your best, but this is not a problem for Jack."
Meanwhile, Wenger has hailed in-form striker Lukas Podolski, claiming the Germany hit-man has been a breath of fresh air around the club since his summer arrival from Cologne.
"Lukas is a very sociable guy and always has a smile on his face," Wenger said. "He is also a clinical finisher. This guy scored 20 goals in a Cologne side that were relegated last season, so he can finish, that's for sure.
"Maybe his experience in moving to a big club in Bayern Munich first time around came too soon for him as he is back at a big club now and doing well. He has the experience of World Cups and European Championships for Germany and 100 international caps to his credit, so he is a top player."