Jack Wilshere is in line to make a return to the Arsenal squad for the game against Liverpool on Saturday as the Gunners prepare for a challenging spell of fixtures that could help define their season.
Wilshere, 22, has been sidelined since suffering a recurrence of his persistent ankle problem during the Gunners’ FA Cup fourth-round win against Coventry last month.
However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the England international could return in time for the Anfield clash -- the first of a tough run of fixtures for the club that sees them face Liverpool twice, as well as Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
“Wilshere might be back and that will be important for us,” said Wenger, who is currently without the injured Theo Walcott, Kim Kallstrom and Aaron Ramsey, while Mathieu Flamini is suspended.
“It’s important to have as many players back as possible in the squad. In the big games it is always decided by having the complete squad available. Most of the time these games are decided by players who come on or players who have a big statement in a big game.”
Wenger went on to stress his belief that Arsenal are well equipped to cope with the demands of their tough schedule.
“I am convinced we can cope with these fixtures,” he said. “Mentally, we are prepared for this and we have shown a great response throughout the season when we had difficulties and we always responded well.
“Physically, we are prepared as well. It depends how many injuries you have because you need to rotate, but we need as many players available as we can. There is always big questions to answer at the end of the season.
“We have a tough month [ahead] by all predictions, but at the moment we are on a good run and the best way is to continue that and keep the confidence levels high and of course, to stay in a strong position for the Premier League. Confidence levels are so important going into the big games and we can only look at the next game. That is all we can do.”
Wenger again brushed aside questions over when he might sign a new contract to extend his stay as Arsenal boss, while suggesting he is “hopeful” that Bacary Sagna will pen a new deal, despite talk that the defender will leave on a free transfer in the summer.