Arsène Wenger will not select Jack Wilshere to face Blackburn Rovers unless he is convinced the England international is fully fit.
Wilshere has been in sparking form for club and country since returning from a 14-month injury lay-off in October but he sustained a thigh injury during Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Sunderland last Saturday.
The 21-year-old has had a heavy workload in recent weeks – including 90 minutes for England against Brazil at Wembley – and Wenger is not prepared to gamble with vital games on the horizon.
“I will not take a risk,” declared the manager. “[That is because I have] the rest of the season in mind and what happened to him before.
“There was no big issue on that [playing 90 minutes for England]. What I said after the game was that I could understand, England were winning and he was the best player. It is difficult to take the best player off when you are beating Brazil.
“Maybe it is a friendly but it still has meaning for the confidence of the country, so I could understand that.”
Wilshere is not the only Arsenal regular who could sit out Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Emirates Stadium. Laurent Koscielny, withdrawn during the warm-up at Sunderland with a calf problem, is among those facing a fitness test.
“Wilshere and Koscielny have a test this [Friday] morning and Thomas Vermaelen should be back. He has a definite test today,” said Wenger.
“We have plenty of people in training today who have a test and we’ll see how well they come out of it. I am confident 50:50 with Wilshere and Koscielny, and Vermaelen 90:10.”
This is the perfect weekend to give Wilshere a break, especially with the match against Bayern Munich on the horizon.