Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere has not played this season due to a fractured legGetty Images

Arsene Wenger has revealed that Jack Wilshere will not be back until February, pouring cold water over speculation that the England international may be back to help the Gunners in their title charge for the busy Christmas period. The midfielder, who celebrates his 24th birthday on 1 January, has not played the ball this season because of a broken metatarsal and the Gunners have been dealt another setback with his recovery going slower than expected.

The Gunners are going through an injury crisis and Wilshere's return would have been a major boost for the Arsenal line-up, who have been running on empty after a gruelling run of fixtures in all competitions. Alexis Sanchez is set to return in January while the likes of Danny Welbeck, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Tomas Rosicky will only be back in the second month of the coming year after recovering from knee problems.

The manager was asked about Wilshere's progress after their outrageous annihilation by Southampton at the St Mary's, to which Wenger revealed that the midfielder has not returned to full training yet and would take five or six more weeks to return to full fitness.

"He will not be back before February. That's for sure. I say February but honestly I don't know. I let him do his recovery. It's going slowly. Once he goes outside to train and is back again into sharp, hard work physically, you count five or six weeks. At the moment he is not there yet," Wenger said, as quoted by the Telegraph.

The north London club take on Bournemouth next and Wenger will be hoping that his players are able to dig deep and get something out of their reserves to get the better of the newly promoted side, which will take them to top spot, until at least when Leicester City face Manchester City on 30 December.

The Gunners are already looking to recruit early in the January transfer window, with Mohamed Elneny reportedly close to completing a move to the Emirates. The Egypt international is currently plying his trade in Basel and will add some much needed energy and defensive solidity to the Arsenal midfield.