Jack Wilshere thought he would never make it back

Jack 'thought he'd never get back': Returning Wilshere frustrated by rate of recovery

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UPDATED:

22:06 GMT, 21 September 2012

After more than a year on the sidelines, Jack Wilshere's journey back to Arsenal's first team is almost complete.

Arsene Wenger admitted on Friday that
there were times when the midfielder, who has not played a Barclays
Premier League game for Arsenal since a 2-2 draw with Fulham on May 22
last year, feared he might not make it and was angry at the time it has
taken to recover from operations to his ankle and knee.

But Wilshere's hard work and
dedication is about to pay off and Wenger is convinced the talented
20-year-old will be razor sharp in the centre of midfield within weeks.

In the thick of it: Jack Wilshere (right) has returned to full Arsenal training after 14 months out

In the thick of it: Jack Wilshere (right) has returned to full Arsenal training after 14 months out

Getting stuck in: Wilshere (centre) will be eased back into Arsene Wenger's first team plans

Getting stuck in: Wilshere (centre) will be eased back into Arsene Wenger's first team plans

The Arsenal manager, preparing for Sunday's league clash at Manchester
City, said: 'He has had ups and downs, maybe more downs over the past
14 months.

'We have to be cautious because he has been out for a long
time and it takes a while to get back to match fitness.

'I have never
had any doubts, but when you are so young, and to be out for that length
of time, is a good test of mental strength. 'I didn't doubt he would be
back, but you would have to ask him if it crossed his mind – I would
say yes.

'I am certain he will be a better player. If you have this type
of injury after the age of 25 it is different. 'After three months
competition I am sure he will be back to his best. It takes time to find
that little burst again.'

Wilshere will continue to work at Arsenal's
training ground in the coming days and will play in a development match
for the Under 21 team when he is fully fit.

That is for the future, but
Wenger is still juggling off-field matters with his players ahead of Sunday 's match against champions City.

Although Wenger insisted on Friday that Theo Walcott's continued absence from the starting
line-up has nothing to do with his aborted contract talks, the issue is
no closer to being resolved.

The Arsenal winger, a regular last season,
has been on the bench ever since he refused to sign an extended and
improved offer to stay at the Emirates.

Happy lads The Walcott (left) could leave team-mate Wilshere (centre) in January

Happy lads The Walcott (left) could leave team-mate Wilshere (centre) in January

There is now a serious danger
that he could be left behind by this improving Arsenal team and Wenger
will consider selling the 23-year-old in January if they have not made
progress.

The Arsenal manager added: 'I still hope he will sign, but the
longer the situation lasts the more difficult it will be.'

'In terms of
January, it will depend on the needs of the team and the club whether
we sell him.

'We can afford to go to the end of the contract if needed.'

Walcott is expected to be on the bench again tomorrow as Arsenal aim to
continue their sparkling early-season form against City after wins at
Liverpool and Montpellier, along with last weekend's 6-1
victory over Southampton at the Emirates.

Main man: Arsenal will look to Lukas Podolski (right) to fire them to victory over Manchester City

Main man: Arsenal will look to Lukas Podolski (right) to fire them to victory over Manchester City

VIDEO: Wenger is preparing for the Manchester City game on Sunday

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