Arsene Wenger happy to give Jack Wilshere more time
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 Barclays 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 is the new target.
But Wenger 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
"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.
The Gunners will welcome Mathieu Flamini back into their ranks after an ankle problem for Saturday's game. Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) is pencilled in to return in the FA Cup next weekend.
Meanwhile, Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren has hinted the club could be in the market for a striker when the January transfer window opens.
The Magpies always looked a frontman short when they added only B£14.5million Serbia international Aleksandar Mitrovic to their pool of attackers during the summer with injury having deprived McClaren of Papiss Cisse and Emmanuel Riviere for long periods during the first half of the campaign.
QPR's Charlie Austin was among the men the club actively courted to no avail with his B£15million price-tag way beyond what they would have been prepared to pay, but with goals having been at a premium to date, they need to do something to either increase firepower, or at least provide better service for Mitrovic.
McClaren has been reticent when quizzed on the subject of the winter window, but asked if he could understand the desperation of fans to know the club's plans, he replied: "Absolutely. Absolutely.
"I understand fully where you're coming from, believe you me. I think I've said enough to say that we do need more goals and that we're working behind the scenes to address that."
Mitrovic is likely to lead the line again at Arsenal on Saturday as Newcastle attempt to end a three-game winless run, although the former Anderlecht player has only three goals to his name so far this season.
However, with Cisse visiting a London specialist for a second opinion on his groin injury and Riviere just back in training after a long-term knee problem, McClaren has little option.
Vurnon Anita is out of the trip to Arsenal after he limped off with a hamstring problem during Monday's 1-0 defeat at West Brom, while goalkeeper Rob Elliot is battling a stomach bug.