Arsenal's bid to finish the Premier League season in the top four and qualify for the Champions League is in danger after star midfielder Jack Wilshere went down with an ankle injury.
UPDATE: Monday, Mar. 18, at 2:01 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
Encouraging news for Arsenal fans as Jack Wilshere (ankle) is expected to return this season, according to Daily Mail's Frank Foster.
Arsenal have confirmed Jack Wilshere is expected to return from an ankle in injury for their clash with Reading at the end of the month...
...It was claimed by some outlets that Wilshere could be missing for a further six weeks and that manager Arsene Wenger had ruled out the possibility of using him again this season.
The club was quick to deny any such setback for the 21-year-old as he continues his rehabilitation in London.
'Nothing has changed in Jack's recovery, there’s no setback or further damage to his ankle and no concern about any long-term problems,' said an Arsenal spokesperson.
'Jack was told to rest and we are still on course for him to resume training and be available for selection for the home game against Reading.'
---End of update---
UPDATE: Monday, March 18, at 8:20 a.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
Arsenal's bid to remain in the top four just became a lot more difficult, as Wilshere is expected to be out much longer than the original three-week prognosis. From Wayne Veysey of Goal.com:
Jack Wilshere has been ruled out for six more weeks in a savage blow to Arsenal's top-four hopes, Goal.com can reveal.
The midfielder is facing an uphill battle to play again this season after his ankle injury was assessed by a specialist in Dubai last week and, then, again when he returned to the club.
Goal.com understands that Wilshere has been told he needs an enforced spell of rest that will keep him on the sidelines for a minimum of six more weeks, until at least the start of May.
---End of update---
From the BBC:
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has been ruled out for three weeks with an ankle injury and will miss England's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro this month.
The injury also rules the 21-year-old out of Arsenal's Champions League tie against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Arsene Wenger added in that report:
"He has an inflamed ankle, the other ankle to the one he injured [before]," Wenger said.
"He will be out for three weeks and will not be available against Munich and Swansea, and not for England."
According to the BBC report, Wilshere hurt the ankle when Arsenal lost to Tottenham, 2-1, on March 3.
This is a huge loss for both Arsenal and England. Wilshere is a dogged, box-to-box midfielder that combines a deft touch and excellent vision with an aggressive edge, high work rate and ability to both win back the ball and retain possession for his team.
He's arguably the most important player the Gunners have—though I'm sure some will make the argument for Santi Cazorla or Theo Walcott—and there's no question he deserves to be a regular fixture on England's roster.
On the season, Wilshere has two goals and four assists in 26 appearances across all competitions.
Battling injuries is nothing new for Wilshere. He missed the entirety of last season with an ankle injury, and the concern for the 21-year-old has to be that he is injury prone. Wilshere's game is hardly brittle, but is his body?
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Bayern Munich will have one of its stars, Franck Ribery, on the sideline as well—and Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boatengso are suspended—so the German squad won't be at full strength either.
But with a 3-1 lead already and playing at home, it would take a monumental collapse for Bayern to not advance.
Arsenal has already been eliminated from the Capitol One and FA Cup, so the Champions League was the team's last chance to end its trophy drought. But trailing by a big margin and now without Wilshere, the odds are now even more bleak for the Gunners.