Jack Wilshere has urged Theo Walcott to sign a new Arsenal contract before the January transfer window opens for business.
Walcott scored after being handed a rare start by boss Arsene Wenger in the 2-2 Champions League draw against Schalke on Tuesday night, but doubts remain over his Arsenal future as there appears to be no prospect of a breakthrough in his stalled contract talks.
Fit-again midfielder Wilshere has now stepped into the saga by stating his hope that Walcott will remain at the club, despite reported interest from Manchester City and Liverpool.
"Theo's future is down to him and the boss to sort out and I hope he signs," Wilshere told London's Evening Standard newspaper. "He has been great for us. He's an English lad and great to have around."
Wilshere went on to reveal the torment he endured as he wondered whether he could make it back to the top of the game after a 14-month injury lay-off, with the 20-year-old confessing he had doubts over his future.
"It's difficult for any player to be out for so long and especially for someone young like me," he said. "I was 19 and just breaking into the footballing world and coming into the team. I'd had a good season and was looking to push on next season.
"Obviously, when you are out for a long time, you question yourself and say: 'Am I going to come back to the level that I was at before?'"
Hopefully, now I can get back to training well. Every day I need to work hard and get back up to the level I was at. Now I'm back. I am still doing my maintenance work in the gym and am keeping fit."
Wilshere has urged disgruntled Arsenal fans to show patience with Wenger's rebuilt side, claiming they are taking strides forward on a weekly basis.
"We still have a lot of new players," he opined. "I have only played with them three times and we feel we are getting better and better as a team, and that we are bonding. Hopefully things will just get better from here."
A red card against Manchester United at Old Trafford last Saturday means the suspended Wilshere will be back on the sidelines for this weekend's Premier League game against Fulham at Emirates Stadium, but he is trying to find a silver lining despite missing yet another game.
"I'm gutted to miss Fulham after being out for so long," he added. "It's disappointing to miss any game but if I think about it another way, maybe it will be good for me to have a little break and come back for the Tottenham game the following weekend."