Arsenal have been dealt a significant blow to their top four hopes this season with the news that Jack Wilshere will be unavailable for six more weeks, it has been claimed.

Wilshere was initially ruled out for three weeks having sustained bruising to both ankles following the loss to Tottenham but, reports Goal.com, the England midfielder will now be out of action until May at the very earliest.

The 21-year-old has reportedly twice seen a specialist to assess the extent of the damage, and has been informed that he must take an extended period of rest in order to allow his injury enough time to heal.

Arsene Wenger recently admitted to overplaying Wilshere since his return from a 17 month layoff last October, and the Arsenal midfielder has been withdrawn from action amid reported fears that he could suffer a stress fracture.

Wilshere has made 17 starts for Arsenal in the Premier League this season, but Wenger has defended his apparent overuse of the youngster.

"It's difficult to rest him because he's a winner and when I ask how he feels, he says ‘perfect’," Wenger told a press conference last week.

The good news for Arsenal and Wilshere is, however, that there is no requirement for the player to go under the knife at present, and a spell of recuperation is hoped to be enough to correct the problem.

Arsenal are, though, sticking to the initial time frame as outlined by Wenger of 'three to four weeks' in terms of when Wilshere will be available again.

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Football