Wenger: Wilshere has ‘real football brain’

Sarah Winterburn

Arsene Wenger has played down the latest controversy involving Jack Wilshere and says injuries are all that can stop him fulfilling his potential.

Wilshere was pictured speaking to police in the early hours of last Sunday morning during a night out in central London, but Wenger played down the incident as the 24-year-old prepared to step up his return from a long-standing leg problem in Friday night’s under-21 fixture with Newcastle.

“I’ve spoken to him. It looks to be taken out of proportion a little bit,” said Wenger, speaking ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with West Ham.

“These are matters that we like to keep internal. This is a completely private matter. I don’t know really what happened.”

Wenger had no issue with Wilshere having a night out, though, adding: “There was no training session the next day. He had an off day (day off). You can accept that sometimes the players go out, when they are free the next day, over the weekend.

“Overall, what is positive is that he works very, very hard. The news looks quite good. I think he will have a good test tomorrow night (for the under-21s).”

Wilshere has a chequered history of off-field incidents, but Wenger insists his only lingering doubt over whether the midfielder will live up to his undoubted talent surrounds his fitness.

Wenger added: “At the moment I believe he’s a real football brain, Jack Wilshere. He loves football. He’s very serious, very dedicated. The only thing that could stop him from having the career he can make is injuries.

“He had the history of his injuries. It’s been bad recently. But I hope he can get rid of that and make the career he deserves.”

Wenger does not know when Wilshere will make his maiden first-team appearance of the season.

“Let’s not rush it too much and let’s see how he responds to the next game,” added the Frenchman, who plans to field Wilshere in a number of under-21 contests before including him in the first team.

“He’ll have a big part in the game tomorrow night and hopefully will come through well.”