Ray Parlour: Jack Wilshere must stay fit to avoid Abou Diaby comparisons

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Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour thinks Jack Wilshere has a huge part to play at the Emirates Stadium moving forward, but warned the young Gunner he must prove his long-term fitness to avoid drawing comparisons to permanently crocked team-mate Abou Diaby.

The 23-year-old has endured another injury ravaged campaign in north London having been sidelined for around five months with a problem picked up in a game against Manchester United back in November.

Wilshere limped off following an innocuous challenge by Red Devils defender Paddy McNair, and given his poor record with injuries over the past few seasons Arsenal fans were naturally left fearing the worst about the player's participation for the rest of 2014/15.

However, even the most pessimistic of supporters could not have predicted that the England international would miss so many matches with a knock that looked pretty harmless when it initially occurred.

Wilshere was forced to undergo surgery and that meant an extended period of rehabilitation in the treatment room followed, but he always set sights on making a comeback before the end of the campaign.

After working his way back to full fitness the Three Lions ace returned to Arsene Wenger's squad for last weekend's FA Cup semi-final victory over Reading at Wembley and could be in line for a first-team recall when Arsenal take on Chelsea in the Premier League this weekend.

However, the Gunners are currently enjoying an impressive run of form and are on an eight-game winning streak in the league, which has lifted them up to second place in the table with just six games left to play.

On that basis Wilshere might have to wait patiently for an opportunity to get some regular minutes under his belt, although that doesn't mean he's not regarded as an important member of the team.

"I think he's the future of the club," Parlour was quoted saying by the Daily Mail at the Carlsberg People’s Pundit final. "I think if he stays fit, he's a quality player, there's no doubt about that.

"The way he goes past players, the way he links up with people, I definitely think he's got a big role to play. But again, the big question mark is can he stay fit?

"Look at Abou Diaby. Diaby's a terrific player. But look at him, the injuries the last few years.

"The big burning question is can Wilshere have a full season without being injured for a long period, like he hasn't had for the last three or four seasons."

Parlour also conceded that despite Arsenal recent run of form this year's domestic title is probably an unrealistic goal. But, the 42-year-old has high hopes for the maturing squad of players over the next few years, suggesting that they're only a couple of signings away from putting serious pressure on Chelsea.

"What I like about the squad is that they've got good youngsters - Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chambers and Bellerin - coming through, but the main nucleus of players are a good age," he added.

"They're not too old, they're in their prime now, they've got the experience. So those sort of players, people like [Mesut] Ozil, [Aaron] Ramsey, [Alexis] Sanchez, Wilshere if he's fit, they've got that nucleus.

"It'll need a couple of big signings, but if they can get them, I'm sure they'll be a lot closer to Chelsea next season in the Premier League, and in the Champions League they can go the extra couple of rounds and get to the final."

Arsenal fans: Do you think Jack Wilshere's fitness problems are behind him? Or will he struggle to ever shake off that horrible injury record? Have your say below...

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Premier League
Arsene Wenger
Jack Wilshere
Vassiriki Abou Diaby

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