Arsene Wenger is hoping Jack Wilshere can fulfil his potential with Arsenal despite struggling to nail down a regular place in the starting XI after breaking into the first-team at the age of 17.
The 25-year-old Gunners midfielder has struggled with injuries in recent seasons and has fallen down the pecking order. It also resulted in him spending last season on loan at Bournemouth, where he played regularly before suffering a fracture which ended his season prematurely in April.
Wilshere is in the final year of his contract with the club and Wenger has insisted that they will wait for him to prove his fitness before deciding on offering him a new deal. The England international made his first appearance in over a year during Arsenal's 3-1 win over FC Cologne in the Europa League and is set to make his first start in the Carabao Cup against Doncaster Rovers on Wednesday (20 September).
The French coach sees a determination in Wilshere to regain his first-team place and believes regular competition will allow him to get back to 100% match fitness, something he still lacks after missing the entire pre-season due to his fracture. The manager also gave the clearest indication that he could be offered a new deal when he revealed that it was the 'dream' of everyone for Wilshere to succeed wearing an Arsenal shirt.
"If you ask me, 'is he back to his full, 100% potential?' I would say no," Wenger said ahead of Arsenal Carabao Cup game, as quoted by the Mirror. "But he's not far away."
"The rest now can only be gained by competition. That's why I believe that these kinds of games are very important for Jack at the moment," he added after indicating in his pre-match briefing that Wilshere could start against Doncaster.
"He is focused, he is working hard and he is absolutely determined to get his place back in the team. There is a big fight there, and that's what we want. It's a dream for all of us to see him fulfill his potential.
"I gave Jack his start at 17 years of age. That means I am convinced — you have to be convinced, to play a boy at 17 years of age, that he is a special player. He is a special player, but we are all the same in that you need health to work — I need health to work and a football player needs to be healthy to play," the French coach explained.