Wenger: Fit-again Wilshere must earn Arsenal starting place

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned fit-again midfielder Jack Wilshere that he faces a battle to return to the club’s starting XI with several of his teammates in fine form, the Guardian has reported.

The England international has spent three months on the sidelines after suffering ligament damage during the 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United on November 22, during which he has undergone surgery. He is set to make his return to the Gunners squad when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.

But in Wilshere’s absence, a number of his rivals for a place in central midfield have impressed significantly, helping the Gunners to a run of eight wins in their last nine games.

Tomas Rosicky has made an impact since returning to the fold on Boxing Day and Francis Coquelin’s reputation has been boosted considerably in recent weeks following a string of good performances, while Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey have played a key part in lifting Arsenal to fifth in the Premier League as well as the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

And as he prepares to re-introduce Wilshere to the squad, Wenger has warned that he may have to wait for his chance. ‘Jack is an offensive player, someone who can turn the game forward and win the ball,’ said the Frenchman. ‘And that’s his game. He can play wide so that means he can play on the right, on the left and in the middle, and with those positions there is fierce competition as well.

“It’s good to have him back. This injury was on his left ankle, whereas he had had all those previous problems on the right one. So it has been a straightforward injury and it has healed. Even so, it’s difficult to come back straight away [into the side] always but it’s good he’s already back in contention.”

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