Arsene Wenger to give 'extra opportunities' to Jack Wilshere
By Paul Vinnell
Last Updated: 02/01/16 5:52pm
Arsene Wenger is willing to give Jack Wilshere extra opportunities to prove his fitness as he considers the midfielder to be a "special talent".
The Arsenal man has started just 10 Premier League matches since March 2014 as a host of injuries have kept the 23-year-old sidelined.
Several ankle problems saw questions raised over Wilshere's long-term fitness and he has yet to feature this campaign after suffering a broken leg in the final days of pre-season preparation.
Without the England international, as well as a number of other players due to injury, the Gunners have still managed to seal top spot heading into 2016.
Wilshere's comeback was initially pencilled in for the new year although it is now looking like the end of February that will be a more realistic target according to Wenger.
But the Arsenal boss will not give up on the precocious talents of a player who has already picked up 28 England caps.
"I am an optimist," he replied when asked if he can rely on Wilshere given the number of injuries he has suffered.
"I always think: 'Okay, it's true that he hasn't played many games in recent years'. I hope at some stage that will stop because he is young and I hope I'm right.
"He is a special case because he is a special talent and he comes out of the club. And he is an England international and I hope his injuries will stop at some stage."
Wilshere penned his current Arsenal contract three years ago and Wenger certainly is not ready to give up on the Stevenage-born ace.
"He has two years left and I want Jack to stay here," the Frenchman added.
"When you love football and at his age, when you wake up in the morning and you can't practice that's terrible.
"They need support and I try to give it to him. But he is strong and he is dealing with that. He started at 17 and played every single game and suddenly it stopped. So I believe that can make you stronger."
Wenger addressed the media on Wednesday ahead of Saturday's Premier League visit of Newcastle and dismissed claims Wilshere may yet be ruled out for the entire season.
That would mean he would have to sit out England's European Championship campaign and Wenger believes Roy Hodgson's side could yet spring a surprise in France.
"They can, of course," he replied when asked if England could win the tournament.
"Why not? It's a similar thing because not to get out of the qualification stage you really need to be suicidal because 16 teams out of 24 qualify and the best third go through so you don't imagine they don't qualify.
"After that, who are your main opponents? Germany, Spain and France. But I don't rule England out, but you are not the first favourites. They are in the second tier. If things go well, they have a bunch of young players."