Jack Wilshere will come back from his injury nightmare better than ever, insists Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott.
The 20-year-old midfielder is back in full training with the Gunners after missing the last 14 months with a series of ankle and knee problems.
Now, after over a year on the sidelines, the England international's long journey back to Arsene Wenger's first-team is almost complete.
"It's nice to see him back," said Walcott. "He's the sort of player that's just different. He spots things that no one else does and he hasn't lost it, trust me.
"He's buzzing, he's getting stuck in and that's what he wants. I had a chat with him and he said: 'I just want to get whacked on the ankle, whacked everywhere'.
"When I had my shoulder problems I needed to get hit and see what it was like. Once you get over that, he'll be fine."
Wilshere has not played a Premier League game since Arsenal's 2-2 draw with Fulham on May 22 last year, and Wenger admitted there were times when he feared the youngster would not make it back to fitness.
However, his hard work and dedication has brought Wilshere close to a full recovery, with the academy product poised to return to action by the end of next month.
"He has had ups and downs, maybe more downs over the past 14 months," reflected the Frenchman. "We have to be cautious because he has been out for a long time and it takes a while to get back to match fitness.
"I have never had any doubts, but when you are so young, and to be out for that length of time, is a good test of mental strength. I didn't doubt he would be back, but you would have to ask him if it crossed his mind - I would say yes.
"I am certain he will be a better player. If you have this type of injury after the age of 25 it is different. After three months competition I am sure he will be back to his best. It takes time to find that little burst again."
Wilshere will continue to train with the first-team, and is set for a run-out with Arsenal's U21 development squad to build his fitness over the coming weeks.
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