Jack Wilshere made his long-awaited return from injury for Arsenal’s under-21s on Friday night.
The 24-year-old, who has yet to figure for the Gunners this season after breaking his leg last summer, played 64 minutes of the clash with Newcastle’s youngsters at Emirates Stadium.
Wilshere began the week in the headlines for his off-pitch behaviour after he was pictured speaking to police in the early hours of last Sunday morning during a night out in central London.
But he was back on the field for the first time since July in a bid to build up his fitness and play a part in Arsenal’s run-in, as well as stake a claim for England’s Euro 2016 squad.
Wilshere lined up alongside Tomas Rosicky, also coming back from injury, and helped the Gunners race into a two-goal lead after just eight minutes.
The midfielder took a while to get into his stride on his first run-out for more than eight months, although one jinking run to the edge of the area almost set up a goal for striker Jeff Reine-Adelaide moments before half-time.
Shortly after the break Wilshere took aim from 20 yards out, but dragged his shot wide.
A superbly-weighted pass then sent Stephy Mavididi through on goal, only for the young forward to roll his shot the wrong side of the post.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, and England chief Roy Hodgson, will have been heartened by a trademark surging run from his own half deep into the opposition’s to set up another attack.
Wilshere also showed he has lost none of his fighting spirit when he squared up to Newcastle’s Henri Saivet, earning a ticking-off from the referee.
Rosicky, who has made just one substitute appearance this term, went off at half-time in what appeared to be a pre-planned change.
Wilshere trotted off shortly after the hour mark with Arsenal leading 3-1.
The scoreline stayed the same and after the match Wilshere told Arsenal Player: “It felt really good to be back out there playing at the Emirates.
“I’m not ready yet for the first team, but it’s another step on the road to fitness. It felt good to play in a match, it’s totally different to training.
“I want to to go to the Euros and to do that I have to get in the Arsenal team, so I have to show the Arsenal manager and the England manager what I can do.”