Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Jack Wilshere is in contention to feature for the first time in three months against Crystal Palace tomorrow, after returning from a serious ankle injury well ahead of schedule.
Wilshere has been back in full training for nearly two weeks after stepping up his comeback from ligament damage suffered against Manchester United on November 22nd, giving him every chance of being included in the squad for a tricky trip to Selhurst Park.
Wenger is adamant that Wilshere will no suffer no lasting effects from the latest in a long line of injury problems, but did admit he's not sure if the England international is ready to play from the start against the Eagles.
In his pre-match press conference this morning Wenger was asked about Wilshere by the Evening Standard, replying: "I cannot tell you if he will start now. Before the last training session, it’s very difficult for me. I have not picked the team definitely. It’s always difficult to come back straightaway. What is good is that he’s already back.
“This injury was on the left ankle. He had all his problems on the right ankle. It’s a straightforward injury - once it’s healed, there’s no problem.
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Cazorla is going nowhere
Elsewhere Wenger was very quick to shoot down rumours that Santi Cazorla is in talks over a summer return to La Liga, with champions Ateltico Madrid.
Cazorla's exceptional form over the last three months has led to increased speculation over his future, but Wenger is adamant the stylish Spanish playmaker is very happy at the Emirates and has no plans to leave at the end of the season.
Wenger said: "He extended his contract last year. I don't think there's anything to worry about, we've not been approached."
He has been the most consistent player. Since he has moved centrally, his influence is bigger."
Bellerin a big doubt
Arsenal's only new major injury concern ahead of this weekend's London derby is young full-back Hector Bellerin, who needs a late fitness test on an ankle injury of his own.
Wenger is waiting to see if Bellerin and Mathieu Flamini come through late checks, with the experienced French midfielder suffering with a tight hamstring.
Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both still on the list of long-term absentees, but things are finally looking up for Arsenal on the injury front heading into the business end of the campaign.
Arsenal fans, do you expect Wilshere to feature against Palace, or should Wenger be more cautious and leave the injury-prone midfielder out? Let us know in the comment box below!