There shouldn’t be too much concern with the news that Jack Wilshere will have a minor operation on his ankle this summer. It seems fairly routine and nothing that should raise any great deal of suspicion. The issue here is that there does seem to be genuine worry about how much that long-term injury will impact Wilshere’s career moving forward.
Arsene Wenger spoke on Friday morning that he didn’t know if Wilshere could play 90 minutes. Ok, on first glance that’s a little ambiguous. Is that a concern just for the last game against Newcastle or something that stretches into next season? I say ambiguous because that is the stance the club has continued to offer over the course of Wilshere’s injury.
It also doesn’t help that Wenger’s ideals for offering younger players the opportunity to play has acted in some way in the disruption of Wilshere’s season. Even off the back of a potentially career-threatening injury, Wenger still went ahead and used the player 24 times in the league this season, of which 20 were starts. There is an understanding that the player always wants to be on the pitch, but where is the acknowledgement and care for the long term?
The problem with this injury is the need to question how it will impact Arsenal. How long will the problems Wilshere faced keep him from reaching his maximum either in games or over the course of his career? What a disheartening prospect it is for the club and its supporters to envisage Wilshere’s career being as good as over at this stage, and I’m not necessarily talking about him calling it a day, but rather that we may not see much more in the way of development over the next few years.
We’ve seen it so many times in the past with Arsenal players, with many losing significant chunks of their career in north London due to injury. It has been flagged up countless times in the past, but surely it isn’t a coincidence. For starters isn’t it about time the club addressed the medical team and questioned whether enough is being done to prevent these long-term absences? In addition, the training and match preparation can also take its toll, with plenty of injuries being muscle-based rather than breaks.
But what could it mean for Arsenal if a player they plan to build so much around is unable to reach the height his talent warrants? It’s not about doom and gloom or knee-jerk reactions, but rather because Arsenal allow for so little in the way of concrete information that questions such as this need to be raised. In fact, so often during Wilshere’s time out did the club maintain a stance that seemed to suggest they too had no idea what was going on. With a player of such importance to any club and across any sport, wouldn’t it behove a club to investigate a little deeper and not leave the issue up to chance?
As previously mentioned, Wenger has to take some of the blame for this season and the 2010-11 campaign. There was never a need to play Wilshere so often and literally push him “into the red.” But surrounding factors have given the manager a reason to be reckless with the player this season, with fans needing something to boost their spirits during a particularly disappointing campaign and Wenger needing to prove that his decision to not buy was the right one.
With so much up in the air and an almost certainty that another operation will be required following this summer, there is plenty to worry about with regards to Arsenal’s most valuable asset.
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