Arsene Wenger warns Jack Wilshere his Arsenal future is 'at stake' as he battles to prove his fitness

James Benge
The race is on: Wenger has told Wilshere to prove his fitness: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has laid down the gauntlet to Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, warning him his future is “at stake” as he battles to prove his fitness.

Wilshere, in the final year of his contract, has so far been confined to Arsenal’s EFL Cup and Europa League sides as he battles to prove his worth to manager Wenger and England boss Gareth Southgate.

Whilst Wilshere has shone when given the chance, Wenger has avoided discussing the contract extension he first hinted was in the offing over a year ago and has challenged the 25-year-old, whose loan at Bournemouth last season was cut short by a broken leg, to repeat those performances on a regular basis.

“Wilshere struggled historically with repeated injuries,” Wenger told beIN Sports. “Nobody would question his talent. Nobody would question his exceptional ability to beat people with the ball. But in this job you need first health.

“Today the requests and demands in the competitions are so high physically that you can only be your best physically if you can play at least 10 games on the trot.

“That is what’s at stake for Jack Wilshere. Keep health and compete and be capable to compete.

“If he can play from now until December at the top level he will be back. If there are other setbacks then it will be difficult for him.

“It’s a vital season, it’s the end of his contract, a World Cup year. He’s an Arsenal player since he’s a kid so all that is at stake for him.

“You would love a player like him, of that quality, to come back. In fact he had a very good game in BATE Borisov, a very brilliant first half when he was back to his best. So he’s not far away now. But let’s hope in the next two to three weeks he can play regularly in the first team.”

It is not only Wenger’s approval that Wilshere is fighting for, with Southgate a keen observer of his recovery.

England’s central midfield duo of Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier have struggled to offer the creativity and dynamism that a fully-fit Wilshere could bring to the Three Lions.

And Southgate refused to rule out an England comeback for Wilshere, who was last included in an international squad last November.

“We're in a position where there's no way we would dismiss any creative player,” Southgate said. “But people have to be playing and have to be playing at a good level.”