It is news that is sure to buoy Gunners fans around the globe: Jack Wilshere looks set to return to training this month ahead of a rumoured February re-emergence to first team action.
The 24-year-old is yet to make an appearance in the 2015/16 campaign after suffering a broken leg in the summer, and all-in-all he has started just ten Premier League matches since March 2014 due to a spate of long-term injuries.
Luckily Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini are proving able deputies at the moment, with Mikel Arteta and even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain waiting in the wings if any further injuries are suffered.
But there can be no doubt that Wilshere offers something a little bit different and perhaps that little bit extra special; his metronomic passing and close control key features of this highly talented young man’s game. He is the epitome of the modern midfielder.
The good news is that Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Wilshere is still part of his plans long term and is willing to give him ‘extra opportunities’ to prove his fitness as he is such a phenomenal talent.
It is obvious that Roy Hodgson considers Wilshere a key part of the England set-up; he featured in five of his country’s Euro ’16 qualification group games. So the hope is that he can return to first team action at the Emirates sooner rather than later in an attempt to earn his seat on the plane to France this summer.
But he is, undoubtedly, losing ground to other midfielders who have come to prominence this term. Dele Alli, for example, has enjoyed a fantastic campaign to date, and the fact that he can play in either a deep midfield role or in support of a lone attacker means he looks a certainty to be in the squad. Eric Dier has shown versatility too, and his ability to play in three positions might just have booked his ticket.
Jonjo Shelvey’s form at Newcastle will determine his chances, while a complete lack of relevant action from Fabian Delph at Manchester City does play into Wilshere’s hands. Liverpool pair Jordan Henderson and James Milner will surely travel assuming they avoid injury, and Ross Barkley is a luxury option that Hodgson may feel can change games when required. Michael Carrick would be something of a curveball, however.
It’s when you look at the midfield options available to Hodgson that you can really appreciate the importance of Wilshere to this England set-up.
The Three Lions have a pair of friendlies scheduled in for the end of March – Germany on the 26th and Holland on the 29th – and so if the young maestro can get a few games under his belt for the Gunners he should be in a good place to enjoy some pitch time for his country in those.
Despite only having just turned 24, Wilshere has bags of international experience with 28 caps and a brace of appearances at the World Cup of 2014 under his belt. As a two-time FA Cup winner his big game acumen could prove decisive for the Three Lions too, so let’s hope he’s fit, healthy and playing well come the deadline day for squad selection.