Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has dismissed suggestions that Jack Wilshere’s ankle problem could hamper his long-term career, but admits he will “have to be managed” ahead of next summer’s World Cup.
Wilshere’s ongoing fitness problems have led to suggestions that the 21-year-old may struggle to fulfil his potential.
However, the Gunners boss has stressed he has no fears for the future of his midfielder as he struggles to control the inflammation in his ankle after undergoing surgery last summer.
“I have no concern [about his future] and have been told by the medical people there is no long-term issue,” Wenger said. “I am told he is still recovering from the ankle inflammation. It is hard [for him], but we have 25 players in the squad and we can deal with that problem.
“We play 60 games-per-year and he certainly will have to be managed. Unless his pains go completely, then he will be used when needed. If there is an alert on his ankles, we will take advice from the medical department and use him when he can really be used.”
Wenger went on to reject suggestions that England manager Roy Hodgson used Wilshere recklessly during the recent international friendlies against Chile and Germany, as he also dismissed reports that his midfielder has returned to Arsenal with a fresh injury.
“There is no problem between the FA and Arsenal Football Club,” he said. “I don’t know where that idea comes from. He was available for England, they used him like they wanted. If he had played two full games, I would have been perfectly happy. There was no restriction there at all. He is not injured now.”
Wilshere’s ongoing fitness worries have been compensated by the return to fitness of Theo Walcott ahead of Saturday’s clash with third-placed Southampton.
And Wenger also dismissed reports that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered a setback in his bid to return to fitness.
“He is still one month from competition and there has been no setback,” Wenger said. “The New Year is a reasonable target for him.”
Meanwhile, Wenger confirmed that Arsenal have opened talks with defender Per Mertesacker over a new contract, with the Germany international’s current deal set to expire in the summer of 2015.