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Wilshere happy to repay Wenger

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has said he signed a new long-term contract with the club as he felt he owed a debt of gratitude to boss Arsene Wenger.

• Wenger eyes recruits
• Blog: Test passed

The Arsenal manager played the loyalty card when he sent out a message to Theo Walcott, whose current deal expires next summer, to sign a new contract last week and now Wilshere has backed the manager's call for unity among the British youngsters at the club.

"The manager has always been there for me," Wilshere told the club's official magazine. "He showed faith in me when I was 18, and he stuck with me throughout the whole time I was injured.

"He knew the only thing that would get me better is games and he stood by me. I need to thank him for that, and yes, he was a big part of why I signed.

"This is my home, my family are 20 minutes away from the training ground, and my friends are all around here. I was brought up at this club and it was an easy decision to extend my contract. We just needed to get a few things right, which didn't take long and I'm really happy that my future is sorted."

Wenger has changed the direction of the club's player recruitment policy in recent years and after fending off criticism for not bringing through enough home-grown stars, he now admits this has become his priority.

"We have always produced a big number of players from within, but what we want to do is produce more local boys, which I think we are doing now," he said.

"It's the first time since I have been here that we have many English players in the team, or I should say British, because I include Aaron Ramsey in that. They all have the correct talent and quality, but the ideal model we want at Arsenal is to produce the core of the team from within our system, and then add exceptional talent from outside.

"We have always done it, first of all because it's a guarantee of security and stability. If you can get the right players into the squad at an early age, you can build a real team spirit.

"When people have grown up together, they have that fraction more togetherness when they are on the pitch than if you assemble players from all over the world. It makes the team attitude a bit stronger."

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