Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker says there is a palpable sense of excitement surrounding Jack Wilshere's return as the young midfielder edges ever closer to first-team action.

Wilshere has not made a competitive appearance for the Arsenal senior team since May of last year, having missed the entirety of the last campaign after a succession of injuries.

Mertesacker has not had the opportunity to play alongside Wilshere yet, having signed for Arsenal shortly after the latter's injury, and is looking forward to the prospect of welcoming him back - as is everyone else at the club.

“It would be good to have Jack Wilshere back soon," Mertesacker told The Express.

"I haven’t played with him yet, but I can feel the sense of excitement around the club that he may be close to returning. You can sense it everywhere in the place. And I think it would be very good for the English national team.”

Wilshere has been eased back into action slowly by Arsenal of late, and has played in two matches for the Gunners' under-21 side, and in a hastily arranged friendly against Chelsea.

Arsene Wenger was able to call Wilshere into his matchday squad for the weekend encounter against Norwich, with the England international an unused substitute as Arsenal slumped to defeat at Carrow Road.

The 20-year-old had been widely expected to return to the Arsenal first-team in the Capital One Cup meeting with Reading a week on Tuesday, but could yet feature before then with games against Schalke and Queens Park Rangers on the horizon.

It is a return that will also be followed closely by England manager Roy Hodsgon who, as of yet, has been unable to select Wilshere since succeeding Fabio Capello earlier this year.

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