Belfast Telegraph

Jack Wilshere setback not down to medics, insists Arsene Wenger

By Jim Van Wijk

Arsene Wenger is adamant Arsenal's medical staff are not to blame for Jack Wilshere's extended absence and insists he has the squad to cope without the England midfielder for up to five months.

The 19-year-old has not played for the Gunners this season and yesterday underwent ankle surgery, which is expected to rule him out until late February.

Arsenal will be without half-a-dozen first-team regulars for tonight's Champions League Group F clash at home to Olympiakos, including Theo Walcott, Gervinho and Laurent Koscielny who picked up minor niggles in Saturday's 3-0 Premier League win over Bolton.

Wenger, though, maintained there was no underlying problem in a packed Gunners treatment room.

"I don't think that the medical staff made any mistake on this case," Wenger said.

"It is unfortunate, we are all very sad at the club that it has happened to such a young boy. We were even more worried, but it was a big relief for everybody at the club that the operation went well.

"The fracture he had didn't heal, what I have been told is that we had to go in quite quickly to repair it and that's why we decided to do it so quickly.

"Is it down to a kick, is it down to playing too much? I don't know, I am not a specialist, but that is unfortunately what happened."

Wenger is not expecting an easy ride against the Greeks, where he will serve the final match of his touchline ban.

"You never win easy in the Champions League - when you give absolutely everything, you have a chance to win," he said.

"If you do not prepare properly, then you have no chance.

"After 14 consecutive years in the Champions League, if we have not learned that, then we are really stupid."

For Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, this season is a first taste of top-flight European action following his deadline-day switch from Everton.

The Spanish midfielder, 29, is relishing the challenge.

He said: "It is hard to explain what it is about the Champions League, the atmosphere is different, you are playing against the best teams in Europe every time.

"You are expected to win here, which is a really good thing.

"We need to be prepared for that and we all know we have the ability to do it."

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