Arsene Wenger has hinted that Arsenal duo Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be out for the season due to the duo's lack of match fitness after spending a considerable amount of time on the sidelines with injury. The former has returned to first-team training after spending five months out with knee and Achilles injuries, while the latter is yet to return to full training after suffering a knee injury and with just four games remaining in the season, they are unlikely to get a chance to make a return before the end of the campaign.
The French manager had admitted that the Spanish midfielder could return to first-team duty after a few training sessions, but has now revealed that Cazorla along with Oxlade-Chamberlain could feature for the Gunners' U21 side who are preparing for their playoff game against Blackburn Rovers on 3 May as they look to gain promotion to Division 1 in the U21 Premier League.
"They are not ready yet and I haven't decided yet, but there are not many games left. We still have games in the under-21s, I can put them in the play-off games [if they are available]," Wenger said ahead of their visit to Sunderland on Sunday (24 April), as quoted on Arsenal's official site.
Jack Wilshere, meanwhile, is much closer to making a return to the first-team after three outings with the reserve side to build match fitness. He completed the entire 90 minutes on two occasions and will be eager to return to the first-team fold and prove his fitness to Wenger as well as Roy Hodgson, who will be naming his final 23-man squad for the European Championship finals on 12 May.
The Gunners boss, however, is unsure if the England international will be involved in the travelling party to the Stadium of Light, but is certain to be involved when Arsenal welcome Norwich City to the Emirates Stadium on 30 April. The 65-year-old manager is happy with the progress made by the midfielder following his return to fitness, especially during his last outing for the U21's against the West Bromwich Albion reserves.
"I cannot plan that. At the moment I do not know if I will take him [Wilshere] on Sunday or not. Should I take him, you cannot plan that he will play a part in the game."
"He made a big improvement in the third [under-21s] game. In the first two he was alright, but in the third he found his burst back, the little change of pace. If I don't take him this weekend, I will take him [in the squad] the weekend after, certainly," the French coach added.