Jack Wilshere is more 'mature' and ready to step in with Arsenal - Wenger
Jack Wilshere is "a more mature man" after going through all his injury problems, Arsene Wenger has claimed, as the Arsenal midfielder prepares to use the Carabao Cup as a stepping stone back into the first team.
Wilshere could make his first start of the season against Doncaster on Wednesday after recovering from an ankle fracture at the end of last season, with Wenger confident that the former teenage prodigy can finally make good on his promise this season.
Wilshere hasn't been a regular in the Arsenal side for three years because of two seasons ruined by injuries and a loan spell at Bournemouth, but Wenger said those tough times have only hardened the midfielder.
"Jack has gone through some tough times so he has that density, that fitness now of a man who knows that life is not only easy," Wenger said. "You have as well to go through some difficult periods and he has always had a football brain. Jack understands football very well, but I would say he's a much more mature man today.
"He had always common sense Jack, but he had an impulsive character."
That impulsive character was on show when Wilshere was sent off in an under-23 game recently for scrapping with an opponent after being the subject of a rough tackle.
He has only made one appearance for the senior team, coming on as a substitute in the Europa League win over Cologne, but is expected to start against Doncaster.
And Wenger insisted that he isn't far from pushing for a place in the Premier League lineup.
"Jack has been consistent in training," Wenger said. "If you ask me is he back to his full 100 percent potential, I would say no, but he's not far away. The rest now can only be gained by competition, That's why I believe that these kind of games are very important for Jack at the moment.
"He is focused, he is working hard and he is absolutely determined to get his place back in the team. There is a big fight there and that's what we want."
Wenger also rejected the notion that Wilshere should change his playing style, with many pundits saying his long history of injury problems is connected to his habit of always driving at defenders with the ball at his feet.
"I don't think you can get that out, because that's part of your pride," Wenger said. "Your pride is part of your game and I don't think he will ever lose that. He will never accept to lose a ball, but that's part of a good football player.
"What I think is that for him it's important now that he stays a long period without having any setbacks. I gave Jack his start at 17 years of age. That means I am convinced. You have to be convinced to play a boy at 17 years of age, that he is a special player.
"He is a special player, but we are all the same in that you need health to work. I need health to work and a football player needs to be healthy to play."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.