Jack Wilshere returned to action in an u21’s match against Stoke City on Tuesday night.
This was Jack’s first competitive game since a pretty heinous – and unpunished – tackle from Manchester United’s Paddy McNair injured the young Englishman on November 22nd.
Having completed 90 minutes alongside Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby – let’s have a brief pause to reflect on an Easter miracle – in a 4-1 win, Jack’s focus immediately turned towards getting back into the first team picture.
Depending on your point of view, his return is either timely, or a bit of a distraction.
I must admit that I tend towards the latter view. I feel that Arsenal are playing perfectly well as they are and these people dribbling on about how Jack is the second coming of Vieira and Bergkamp wrapped up into one tidy little Stevenage born package are… well, they’re out of their tiny little minds.
However, it can’t be denied that, as we get to the business end of the season, Jack is a rather tidy option to have around the squad. This is something the player himself is quick to recognise.
Speaking to Arsenal.com after last night’s game, he said,
“I feel like I’m ready to play some part. When you’re injured you look at your comeback date and the games around that time.
“The one that stands out is the FA Cup semi-final but even before that we’ve got big games and we’ve got to go to Man United as well so there’s a chance to play this season.”
The problem Jack has, though, is that Arsenal will only play one game per week now until the final week of the season, when a home game with Sunderland provides the meat in a Manchester United and West Brom sandwich.
At present, I don’t see Jack having a realistic chance of getting into a midfield which gives every sign of having clicked.
His only chance, in my opinion, is if somebody gets injured. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, in a way. Let’s not rush Jack back, get him 100% fit and, with a good rest in the summer, he can start next season with a bang.
Of course, there have been whispers that Jack will not be in north London come this August…
The Telegraph are the latest to link Jack to a move which seems to have been oft mentioned as a foregone conclusion, but only quietly, for years now. I think their article which has quotes from, er, absolutely nobody, is a bit of a 2+2=5 job.
However, it taps into a sense that Jack hasn’t quite fulfilled the potential he was showing four years back.
It also, correctly in my view, taps into the opinion that the Manchester City squad is overloaded with foreigners who are, possibly, just past their peak- hello Bacary Sagna!
The City squad is clearly in need of a refresh and perhaps some young Englishmen are just the sort required. If it makes you feel any better, Jordan Henderson is also mentioned as a “realistic target” and I doubt he’s any likelier to up sticks for Eastlands
You see, whilst I have my issues with Jack, in particular a section of the fanbase who seem intent of blowing his talent up out of all proportion – not that that is his fault, of course – I still think it would be madness to sell the guy.
For a start, he is a very good footballer.
For another thing, as long as he’s been around, he is only just 23-years-old and could yet become a great English footballer. Arsenal have no financial need to sell him, especially to a rival, and there is no sporting case to sell him.
Not yet anyway.
Therefore, although I would question just exactly what Jack has done to earn a contract extension, presumably improving on terms signed only two years back, the story that a new deal may be in the works makes a lot more sense to me.
I hope that Jack can overcome the injuries which have threatened, thus far, to derail his career and come back with a bang next season.
I feel that, one way or another, it’s going to be a pretty big season for him.