- Premier League
Wilshere's woe gets worse
Arsene Wenger says Jack Wilshere will be out for eight weeks and admitted the fractured foot he suffered in England's game against Denmark on Wednesday is a bitter blow.
A statement from Arsenal and the FA had suggested the midfielder may be back two weeks sooner but the manager confirmed he will be out until early May and is "very down".
There is now serious doubt that Wilshere, 22, will play for his club again this season - despite Wenger's protestations to the contrary - and that in turn would likely reduce his chance of going to the World Cup with England radically .
Has Arsene changed his tune?
- Wenger was uncharacteristically calm when it came to discussing Wilshere's injury, given his history of verbally bashing the FA for "meaningless" friendlies...
- November 8, 2012 (on Jack Wilshere playing against Sweden): "I wouldn't like to come out on my feelings on this because they are not very positive. He has played three games now and only one full game. He has been out for 17 months."
- November 8, 2012 (on Santi Cazorla playing for Spain in Panama): "There are a lot of politics behind these games because when you see some teams travelling during that period, you think it is more to pay back some corporation rather than preparing a team for the next official game. I believe the friendly games are there as well to help some federations raise money playing against big teams."
- March 2, 2012 (on Thomas Vermaelen playing against Greece, Robin van Persie playing against England): "Friendlies are becoming more and more difficult to accept. Belgium forced [Vermaelen] to travel and play 90 minutes after being injured and had a centre back on the bench who did not play at all, in a friendly knowing they do not even go to the European Championship. The Holland manager [Bert van Marwijk] hasn't spoken to me but he knew Robin was injured because he said he will play him, despite his groin problem. The same with the Belgium manager [Georges Leekens]. That's not defendable."
- December 13, 2009 (on Van Persie's ankle ligament damage suffered against Italy): "Friendlies during the season should be banned. I expect [compensation for] the damage that it could make to the Premier League [title bid], financial compensation and the salaries. It could cost us the season."
- March 28, 2008: "I am scared that in the modern game, there is no room any more for friendly internationals. There is nothing at stake. People want to see competitive games."
- February 7, 2008 (on Mathieu Flamini's ankle injury playing for France B v DR Congo): "If you did a poll of all the clubs involved in the Champions League I wouldn't be surprised if 100 per cent of them said let's get rid of it [February friendlies]."
- September 23, 2005: "We must get rid of friendlies. You get a player back on a stretcher 24 hours before a must-win match. It's impossible for a player to prepare properly. You'd have to be a magician rather than a coach to get them back to their normal selves by Saturday. FIFA and UEFA think of protecting their [international] tournaments. They have little inclination to focus on the problems of the clubs."
The Arsenal manager said: "He will be out for a maximum of six weeks before he can absorb training. He will work on his fitness during his injury. Two weeks after, he should be competitive, so to play in a game eight weeks.
"It is a blow for him and for us. From now on, we want him to recover as quickly as possible and get him to come back as quickly as possible and prepare for the rest of the season.
"You can only be very down in a situation like that, especially in the first few days. He is in a boot and he has gone away for a few days to get a little bit away from the trouble, the disappointment and think about something else.
"It is certainly very difficult at [Wilshere's] age to have injuries. You want to jump out of bed, go on a football pitch and play. When you can't do that, it is difficult mentally when you can't do that. I hope it is his last accident for a long, long time."
Wilshere, whose promising career has been punctuated by some lengthy injuries, had initially been tipped to re-appear for Arsenal's game against Hull in late April.
The latest timescale on his recovery means he may only be fit to return for the club's final Premier League game of the season against Norwich on May 11th.
However, Wenger, a critic of international friendlies, has exonerated England manager Roy Hodgson and Demark and Liverpool's Daniel Agger, whose tackle led to the injury, of blame.
Wilshere played on for 14 minutes on Wednesday after he took the knock on his foot but Wenger refused to blame either player or England manager Hodgson.
"It is an accident," Wenger said. "The tackle was strong, but I think he wanted to go for the ball.
"At some stage, it is the player gives you an indication. You give him a few minutes to see how he feels and if there is no pain, you carry on. We are not at the point where you can have an instant X-Ray to see how the damage is. We are all sorry for him - get well soon."
Wenger insists Arsenal have "not thought about" the prospect of the club receiving compensation from the FA, despite reports they will seek £600,000, and claimed Wilshere still has a chance of going to Brazil with England.
"Any player who has an opportunity to go to the World Cup, you don't want to talk him out of out," he said. "You want to encourage him to go to the World Cup because the meaning to go to the World Cup is immense. I will do everything to help him to get there.
"A fracture is a fracture. It's not muscular or ligament. Once it is healed there is no reason to have an restriction in your preparation."