Bulked up Jack Wilshere safely negotiates Arsenal return
The 20-year-old showed flashes of his old self as he played his first game for 14 months
JACK WILSHERE finally returned to action for Arsenal yesterday after 14 injury-plagued months when he negotiated 63 minutes of an under-21 game against West Brom at the Hawthorns. The young Gunner played alongside his "best friend" at the club Emmanuel Frimpong, who is also on the comeback trail, in midfield, although Arsenal ended up losing the game 1-0.
Despite the result, it was an encouraging performance for the prodigy, who was touted as the future of England and Arsenal before he picked up an ankle injury in June 2011 while on international duty. This was his first game since he aggravated the problem in July last year during a pre-season friendly against New York Red Bulls.
Wearing his new squad number, the ten vacated by Robin van Persie in the summer, Wilshere slotted in behind the front two for the Arsenal under-21 team, with Frimpong playing behind him.
Afterwards Wilshere declared himself "shattered" but Frimpong, who has been out since February with a knee injury, said he was pleased to have him back. "When you have been out for so long it's only natural that you're going to be tired," he said. "Jack needs more games to get fit but I think the England and Arsenal fans should be excited to see him back playing."
He added that he was confident of Wilshere's fitness after putting him through his paces on the practice field. "When you’re training with me every day you’re always going to come back with a few knocks so he’s used to that. I’ve given him a few testers so he’s tough."
However, Wilshere won't be running out in the Premier League just yet.
"Wilshere is now expected to step up his recovery in the under-21s game against Reading next Monday, and will not be considered for Wenger’s squad until at least the end of the month," reports The Daily Telegraph. "Wilshere unsurprisingly appeared intent on easing himself in and there were few of the rampaging runs that became his trademark in his breakthrough season."
The 20-year-old has "bulked up" in the gym during the last year said The Guardian. "His thighs look like tree trunks," it noted.
"There were flashes of his former self, a smart pass here and a driving run there, but it was the understandable lack of stamina that was most pronounced. He practically dragged himself through the latter stages of the first half as errors crept into his play," said the paper.
"The tackling was fairly robust for an under-21 game. Wilshere pulled out of some dangerous ones but played with his usual commitment," said the London Evening Standard.
He was even afforded a standing ovation by the crowd of 338 when he came off after an hour, according to London 24.