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JACK WILSHERE is mentally stronger than ever but will always be hampered by injuries, according to Arsenal assistant manager Steve Bould.
Wilshere is back in the Gunners fold after missing England’s friendlies with Holland and Italy because of a knee problem.
The 26-year-old has become a byword for a player with plenty of talent who has been unable to fulfil that huge potential because of fitness concerns.
Serious knee and ankle injuries have sidelined Wilshere for long periods in the past and he went on loan to Bournemouth last season in the hope of getting regular games, but ended up getting hurt there too.
Wilshere has nevertheless proved many doubters wrong by re-establishing himself at Arsenal – including Arsene Wenger, it seems, as the Arsenal manager had previously told the former teen prodigy he could find a new club.
That could still happen of course as Wilshere will be out of contract in the summer having rejected Arsenal’s renewal offers so far.
But Bould, who was his youth-team coach when Wilshere was on his way to becoming Arsenal’s youngest league debutant, believes the player has acquired mental toughness through adversity.
And, just as significantly, he predicted that though future lay-offs were likely they would be niggles rather than lengthy absences.
“I’ve known Jack since he was a real young kid,” Bould said. “He’s a great footballer, he loves the football club and we just need him fit more often than he has been in the past. It is coming slowly but surely.
“I’m really pleased for him because he’s worked tremendously hard and it’s been tough for him mentally.
“It looks like he’s rode through it and he’s come out a stronger person and player for it. Perhaps he will always have a little niggle here and there because of the way he is structured. That’s his make-up now. We are all hopeful longer term he has overcome those issues.”
The England call-off was a case in point, he argued, as Wilshere has been passed fit to feature against Stoke tomorrow, as England manager Gareth Southgate had predicted.