Wilshere lined up for Arsenal return in U21 clash with West Brom next week
22:02 GMT, 25 September 2012
Arsenal plan to give Jack Wilshere his first taste of competitive football in more than a year on Monday.
The midfielder has missed the last 14 months with foot, ankle and knee injuries.
But Wilshere is closing in on a first-team comeback, having returned to full training last Thursday.
Back in action: Jack Wilshere (right) in training for Arsenal
And manager Arsene Wenger has pinpointed Monday’s Under 21 clash against West Brom for the England international to take his next step on the road to full recovery.
Wenger and his backroom team will keep a close eye on Wilshere during training and if they don’t feel he is ready for next week’s game, Wilshere will focus on playing in the U21 clash with Reading on October 8.
Further behind-closed-doors friendlies could also be arranged to give the midfielder more game time before his eagerly awaited first-team return.
Wenger has been pleasantly surprised by Wilshere’s fitness and performance levels since his return to full training.
Nevertheless, the Arsenal boss will resist any temptation to include Wilshere in his plans for Wednesday’s Capital One Cup clash against Coventry as he takes a cautious approach to his influential star’s return.
Wenger will make a host of changes from the side that started against Manchester City on Sunday, with Olivier Giroud, Andrey Arshavin and Andre Santos all set to feature. Long-term absentee Emmanuel Frimpong is set for a place on the bench.
Welcome: Wilshere has been out of action for 14 months
Talented youngsters including highly-rated Serge Gnabry are also likely to face the League One side.
‘We want to put out a talented side that has a good chance to win the game,’ said Wenger. ‘We will give a chance to players who have not played. The players that did not play on Sunday will get a chance and it’s an opportunity to show what they can do.’