- Premier League
Wenger expects Wilshere to return in four to five days
Arsene Wenger expects Jack Wilshere to be available for next week's FA Cup fifth round tie with Blackburn, after the midfielder had to be substituted at Sunderland on Saturday.
Wilshere came in for some heavy treatment at the Stadium of Light, eventually leaving the field injured to be replaced by Abou Diaby early in the second half. Arsenal won the game 1-0.
The sight of their talisman grounded by injury was a cause for concern for Gunners fans, particularly with the first leg of their Champions League tie against Bayern Munich on the horizon (on February 19), but Wenger expects a quick recovery.
"It was a big kick on the thigh. He couldn't walk. He doesn't walk properly now. I hope it's four or five days [until he's back]," Wenger said on Arsenal's official website.
The Arsenal boss was also positive over the absence of Laurent Koscielny, who missed Saturday's game due to a calf injury. "We think it's a question of days [until he returns] because he had a positive scan," Wenger said.
"He [came off for France] at half-time [on Wednesday] and we decided to give him a trial in the warm up. He was not good enough. I don't think it's long-term."
Reflecting on the game, Wenger pleaded with referees to give Wilshere the protection he deserves after a bruising victory at Sunderland.
The Frenchman was unhappy with a series of hefty challenges on his players, and in particular some of the treatment handed out to the England midfielder, with referee Anthony Taylor taking a lenient approach despite sending off Gunners defender Carl Jenkinson for two bookable offences.
Asked if he was happy with some of the tackling on show, Wenger said: "No, I wasn't, especially on Jack. I was a bit frustrated because I thought many times, Jack didn't get the free-kick he deserved.
"The referee let two or three things go that I thought were fouls on Jack. I want just the referee to give a foul when it's a foul. I don't want any special protection. The referee is not a bodyguard, he is just a referee and you want him just to give a foul when it's a foul.''
Wilshere limped off after 50 minutes following a collision with Sunderland's Alfred N'Diaye, although Wenger did not believe his player, who starred in England's 2-1 friendly victory over Brazil in midweek, had been singled out for special attention.
"No, but you know when you have the midfield we have - Cazorla, Wilshere, Arteta, Ramsey - they won't stop us from playing. They try to stop us from combining and playing, so they get close to us.''