EXCLUSIVE: Wilshere hands Gunners boost as plans return on February 4
Jack Wilshere is set to hand Arsenal a timely boost by returning to full training before the end of January.
The England international has missed the entire season with an ankle injury aggravated in the pre-season Emirates Cup tournament.
Wilshere is on a strict rehabilitation programme and has stepped his training regime ahead of his first-team return.
Road to recovery: Jack Wilshere could make his first appearance of the season on February 4
And the Gunners medical team hope to have the central midfielder ready to join in training late this month or early February.
The Barclays Premier League game against Bolton on February 1 is likely to come too early for Wilshere to make his playing return.
But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes to have the influential midfielder in contention to play against Blackburn on February 4 or Sunderland seven days later.
Ideally, Wenger wants Wilshere to have some playing time under his belt before the Champions League second-round first-leg clash against AC Milan at the San Siro on February 15.
Despite Wilshere’s progress, the Gunners medical team are taking a cautious approach with the 20-year-old and will only give him the all-clear to make a first-team return when they are 100 per cent convinced about his fitness.
Wilshere’s pending return will come as a major boost to Wenger, whose side have been crippled by injuries in recent weeks.
Thankfully, the Frenchman’s injury list looks set to shorten this week with key defenders Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna primed to return to action against Manchester United on Sunday.
Still involved: Wilshere has kept active around the club despite the surgery on his ankle
Sagna has missed the last four months
with a broken ankle, while Vermaelen has missed the Gunners’ last three
games with a calf injury.
Meanwhile, the future of Arsenal youngster Pedro Botelho, 22, is in jeopardy after he drove into a police car and then failed a breathalyser test.
Botelho, who is currently on loan at Spanish second division side Rayo Vallecano, was arrested by police officers in Madrid during the early hours of Monday morning.
It is alleged that when reversing his car the Brazilian collided with a police vehicle before speeding off.
Needs a boost: Arsene Wenger
However, police officers stopped him minutes later where he failed an ensuing breathalyser test. It is also understood to that he does not hold the appropriate licence to drive in Spain.
The incident has left Botelho’s long-term future with Arsenal in serious doubt. Gunners officials will make a decision on his future after Spanish police have conducted their investigation.
But Botelho could face the sack if Arsenal class the offence as gross misconduct, which would be in breach of his contract.