Thomas Vermaelen believes Jack Wilshere has returned to Arsenal stronger than ever – in more ways than one.

The Arsenal midfielder spent 14 months out of football trying to overcome foot and ankle problems but finally made it back to full training this month, and has featured in two under-21 games so far.

While Wilshere’s fitness is still yet to return fully – he professed to be being ‘knackered' after his first 62 minute run out against West Brom, Thomas Vermaelen believes he has beefed up in the gym during his time off.

“When I was out with injury, I was in the gym a lot,” he told the Gunners offical site. “Jack was in the gym even longer working hard on his weaknesses.

“You can see that now in his body on the pitch. For me he looks much stronger and that’s good. Sometimes you have to take the positives when you’re out for more than a year and I think he’s done that.”

The Arsenal defender also paid tribute to his young colleague, and believes he has the potential to be one of the best midfielders in the world – but warned Wilshere must not be rushed back into the Gunners first team.

“You know what he did in his first full season for Arsenal - he was amazing,” Vermalen told Arsenal Player.

“For me, he can be one of the best midfielders in the world. He has the potential for that.

“I’m really happy he’s coming back now. He’s working on his match fitness and that’s the most important thing. I think in the future [he] will lift the team.”

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