Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere is due to return in February despite fears over an extended absence Getty Images

Arsenal have denied reports that Jack Wilshere has suffered an early setback in his rehabilitation from ankle surgery, which would force him out for five months.

Wilshere underwent surgery in November following a tackle from Manchester United defender Paddy McNair and was expected to be out until late February.

But the Sun newspaper claimed on Monday 8 December that the England international's expected return had been put back two months, ruling him out until April at the earliest.

But Arsenal have responded to the claims, rubbishing any suggestion Wilshere faces an extended spell out after going under the knife.

"[The club are] disappointed with reports," an Arsenal spokesman told Sky Sports News HQ. "He's doing well after surgery and he is three months away from a return as originally stated. There's been no setback".

The news will likely be welcomed by Arsenal supporters, who have seen a string of influential players ruled out for long periods this season.

Theo Walcott is currently nursing his second injury of the season and while Olivier Giroud has returned from a broken leg, Mikel Arteta, Laurent Koscielny, Mathieu Debuchy and Wojciech Szczesny are among the influential players out injured.

The Gunners' injury crisis has centred around their defence, which has been decimated at times this term and as a result looked particularly exposed in the 3-2 defeat to Stoke City – the club's fourth league loss of the campaign.

"We were not dominant enough in the challenges and looked a bit tender at the back," Wenger told Sky Sports after the loss at the Britannia Stadium.

"We were too fragile [at the back]. We missed [Laurent] Koscielny and it was too much.

"We did not do what we promised ourselves from the start of the game and that's something that makes you angry."