Bournemouth are still eager to sign Jack Wilshere on a full-time basis this summer, according to manager Eddie Howe. The Arsenal loanee came off the bench to feature for the final 20 minutes of a South Coast derby stalemate at Southampton on Saturday (1 April) in which Harry Arter missed a late penalty in rather farcical fashion.
Such a restricted cameo has become the norm for Wilshere of late, with the former midfield regular also appearing as a second-half replacement in victories over West Ham United and Swansea City after being left as an unused substitute during a controversial draw against Manchester United in early March.
And while that demotion does not appear to have altered Howe's thinking regarding a possible permanent deal, he admits that the player may see his future elsewhere.
"I've always said, 'We love Jack, we would love to sign him'," he was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "But that decision will rest with Arsenal, with Jack, with other people: it's out of our hands. And Jack may well see his future elsewhere.
"He did say as soon as he came to us that he'd totally commit to us for the season, and then in the summer sort out his future. There's so many variables, there's so many things that can change, it's not the right time. We've got to concentrate on results and the games we've got coming up.
"Jack obviously wouldn't want to start from the bench, he'd want to be playing, but since the Manchester United game – he felt his ankle against Manchester City – the team's done very well, and it's very difficult to take either centre-forward out.
"What he has done when he's come on is showed he's got a great attitude; he's trained so well, and that's reflected when he's come on the pitch, he's been outstanding. He really was the defining factor in us gaining total control [against Southampton]."
Howe was full of praise for Wilshere – who may well earn a recall to the starting XI for a tricky trip to Liverpool on Wednesday (5 April) after Andrew Surman suffered a knee injury against Southampton that is expected to keep him sidelined for a number of weeks – and stressed that Bournemouth currently boast plenty of competition for places in midfield.
"He's been an outstanding professional," he added. "And I can't speak highly enough of him as a player and as a person. If you look at Jack's season overall, there's massive, massive positives. He's played so many games, a lot of 90 minutes. This is just a little spell where he's been out of the team but he's still coming on to great effect. Overall, he's stayed fit and it has to be a huge positive for him, this season."
Wilshere, currently contracted by Arsenal until June 2018, and seemingly valued at around the £10-15m mark by former club stalwart Ray Parlour, insisted last month that he was not currently thinking about his future with the Gunners and it appears that talks over a potential extension have been shelved until his season-long loan at Bournemouth expires in the summer.
Speaking back in January, Arsene Wenger, who has yet to publicly disclose a decision on his own future amid further fan protests, admitted his regret at allowing the 25-year-old to temporarily depart north London following injuries sustained by the likes of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin.