Jack Wilshere has not reached the heights which his talent promised but, after a sleuth of injury setbacks, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the midfielder is getting back to his best form.
After recovering from a broken leg, Wilshere is yet to play in the Premier League this season, but he made a 22-minute cameo against Cologne in the Europa League last week and is expected to be given another run-out against Doncaster Rovers in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.
“If you ask me, ‘Is he back to his full, 100 per cent potential?’, I would say no,” said Wenger. “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 [Europa League and EFL Cup] 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.
“It’s a dream for all of us to see him fulfil his potential.
“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.”
While the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil dominate conversation around the Emirates Stadium, Wilshere is similar to the high-profile pair in that his contract expires at the end of the campaign, with reports this week suggesting the midfielder is open to joining West Ham, having spent last term on loan at Bournemouth.
Wilshere was sent off for clashing with Manchester City youth player Matthew Smith in an Under-23 fixture this season, but Wenger says the 25-year-old has been working hard to earn a first-team spot again.