He might be struggling to get off the bench these days, but it wasn't so long ago that Jack Wilshere was being heralded as Arsenal's next big thing.
Bursting onto the scene as the Gunners' youngest ever debutant as a 16-year-old in 2008, the midfielder went on to win PFA Young Player of the Year honours in 2011. Since then, however, Wilshere's career has largely stalled due to persistent injury issues.
But, as is the case with Arsenal's policy of promoting youth rather than signing big names, there are players already waiting in the wings ready to become the north London club's stars of the future. Speaking today, the now 24-year-old Wilshere pinpointed two youngsters in particular that could have breakout campaigns this year.
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And, rather than opting for new signing Rob Holding or the likes of Calum Chambers or Alex Iwobi, the England midfielder picked two names slightly out of left-field - Chris Willock and Jeff Reine-Adelaide.
"I’ve played with Chris for a few years in training and last year he came on tour,” Wilshere explained, via Arsenal's official website.
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“I think he has improved, he has become stronger and he is one of those players that have a natural ability running with the ball.
“He can take contact well if someone smashes into him. He has got great balance…if Chris gets his chance I’m sure he will take it."
Willock, 18, is yet to make his first-team debut but was on the bench for an F.A. Cup tie last season. With six goals in 19 games for the under 21's last season, the highly rated winger could get a chance to shine on the big stage at some point this year.
Reine-Adelaide, meanwhile, is someone Wilshere definitely feels can make the step up to Wenger's senior squad.
"I think one thing that strikes everyone [about Jeff] is his confidence," Wilshere said. "Last year when he played in the Emirates Cup, he was only 17 years old and he wasn’t afraid to get the ball down take players on and play.
“I think the year in the under-21s has really helped him and he is ready to make that step up.”
The Frenchman, another winger, has already given Gunners fans a taste of what he can do with impressive displays in the F.A. and Emirates Cup last season.
The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott are amongst those ahead of both youngsters in the pecking order just now, of course.
However, neither of the England internationals are known for particularly consistent play (and Arsenal's famed injury issues are seemingly never too far away).
Perhaps, then, Arsenal fans bemoaning their lack of signings this summer could be cheering on two more exciting youth team products by the end of the campaign.
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