Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is close to returning to the English Premier League for the Gunners after playing over an hour of football for the Arsenal under-21's side against West Bromwich Albion's under-21 on the weekend.
Wilshere made his first appearance for the Gunners in over a year—14 months to be precise—and chalked up 63 minutes in a strong performance that is bound to have players, management and fans alike all equally excited at his possible return to the first team.
When you’ve been out for so long it’s only natural that you’re going to be tired. He needs more games to get back fit and the Arsenal and England fans should be excited to see him back.
I’m happy for him to be back and seeing a smile on his face. Hopefully he can take it onto the next game. He gave Mikel Arteta a little tester in training the other day so Mikel certainly knows he’s back.
I thought he did well after 14 months out and can be pleased with his performance here...
One of the brightest young talents in the English Premier League, Wilshere has struggled with ankle injuries throughout his short career, as well as knee issues. And if he could just stay healthy for a substantial period of time, there's little doubt that both the midfielder and the club would reap the rewards of his strong and decisive play on the pitch.
Take for instance his breakthrough season for Arsenal—the 2010-11 campaign—where the 20-year-old won the PFA Young Player of the Year, Arsenal Player of the Year and made the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
He was dynamic in attack and solid in defense, and provided a great spark in creating attacking chances through the middle of the pitch.
Wilshere simply oozes class and talent, and his return from injury could not have come at a more perfect time for the Gunners with Abou Diaby—the player who has filled Wilshere's position so far this season—going down with injury against Chelsea last weekend.
And with the starlet back into the starting side alongside Mikel Arteta, and now with the brilliant Santi Cazorla ahead of him on the pitch, Arsenal fans have every right to be excited about the prospect of this trio in midfield and the results it may produce.
Writes Josh Clarke at Goal.com:
A midfield three comprised of Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla is a tantalising prospect and lays reasonable claim to being one of the strongest, if not the strongest, in the division.
In a week where Abou Diaby's thigh injury has refocused negative attention on Wenger's decision to sell Alex Song, Wilshere's return to fitness is akin to a new £20 million glamour signing for the club—a notion given weight by Arsenal's recent, impressive pre-tax profit announcements.
The weekend’s narrow 2-1 defeat to Chelsea could yet have a destabilising effect on what has been a better-than-expected start to the season for the Gunners but the welcoming back into the fold of one of the club's favourite sons provides an immediate shot in the arm to players, fans and indeed Wenger.
It still remains to seen whether Wilshere will make his return this week in the Premier League, with a decision likely to be influenced by the result and player performance of the Gunners when they play Olympiakos in the Champions League on Wednesday.
But what is clear is that the return of the 20-year-old could just be what the club needs to kick their season up a gear, and produce the football that made them one of the toughest sides to beat in the Premier League last season.
That's nothing on Diaby—who has been simply sensational through the opening six weeks in both attack, defense and his relationship with Arteta in midfield. It's just more a reflection of the talent and style that Wilshere possesses and can etch out on to the football pitch for 90 minutes every week.
The return of the 20-year-old to the first team will obviously depend on his fitness and whether or not his body is ready for the challenges of the English competition.
But if healthy, Wilshere could well be eying off a spot in the Gunners lineup this week, where they will take on West Ham United at Upton Park.
Will Jack Wilshere return for the Gunners this weekend?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre