Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will make his maiden appearance of the season in an U-21 Premier League fixture on Friday 8 April. A hairline crack to the left fibula sustained during a training session has kept the injury-plagued 24-year-old out since August, but he will make a significant step towards a first-team return by featuring for Steve Gatting's side as they host Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium.
Wilshere, who still appears to be in England manager Roy Hodgson's plans for Euro 2016 despite his lack of football, courted controversy earlier this week after The Mirror obtained video footage of the player talking to police in the early hours of Sunday morning after an incident at the Café de Paris nightclub near Leicester Square in central London. That was not the first time that his nights out have attracted negative headlines, although Wenger believes that the latest episode may have been overblown.
"I spoke to him," he said at a pre-match press conference held prior to Arsenal's trip to West Ham United this weekend. "It looks to be taken out of proportion a little bit and these are matters we like to keep internal. There was no training session the next day, he had a day off and you can accept the players go out and when they are free over the weekend, and what is positive is he works very hard. He will have a good test tomorrow night."
He later added: "This is a private matter and it is difficult to speak about it because I don't know exactly what happened. When you are famous and go out, you can be provoked. I am a bit cautious and if you are known you have the right to go out.
"He has a real football brain, he loves football. I invite you to come in and watch him work and you would understand he is very dedicated. The only thing that can stop him is injury but he had the history of injuries. It has been bad recently but hopefully he can come through and have the career he deserves."
Wilshere will be joined by Tomas Rosicky on U-21 duty as the experienced playmaker, who is out of contract this summer, continues his unexpectedly quick rehabilitation from a thigh problem that was initially feared could keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. While that duo build towards their respective comebacks, Aaron Ramsey could return to action for the first team at Upton Park. The Welsh international has not played since an FA Cup fifth-round replay at Hull City in early March, ruled out due to a thigh strain sustained in a comprehensive 4-0 victory over the Championship promotion contenders.
Mathieu Flamini will be available for selection one more after recovering from a hamstring injury suffered during the Champions League last-16 second-leg defeat to Barcelona last month, although Santi Cazorla is still working towards full fitness following an achilles problem that has delayed his recuperation from knee ligament surgery. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is expected to join in training soon in the aftermath of his own knee issue.