Mikel Arteta has lamented the injury woe of his old Arsenal team-mate Jack Wilshere, saying the midfielder "could have been phenomenal".
Wilshere is battling to overcome his latest issue and looks sure to miss out on an Arsenal reunion on Saturday, when West Ham United tackles Arteta's Gunners at Emirates Stadium. Since leaving Arsenal for West Ham in July 2018, Wilshere has started just six Premier League games, coming off the bench on eight further occasions.
The 28-year-old has yet to score for the Hammers in the top flight, and Opta statistics show he has taken just six touches in the opposition penalty area during those few games. As he nears the end of a second season at the London Stadium, former England player Wilshere is again enduring the deep frustration of being unable to make an impact on the pitch.
Wilshere was dogged by a host of injuries during his 10-year senior Arsenal career, all too often being unable to string together the runs of games he needed to develop his obviously prodigious playmaking talent. "It's very sad with Jack," said Arsenal head coach Arteta, who spent five years as a midfield colleague of Wilshere.
"When I joined here and watched him play every day in training and everything he had, you could say he could be one of the best midfielders, but he always had something. He has started to build again a career and then again another injury, another setback, and it was disappointment.
"I was very impressed with Jack, how strong he is mentally to deal with the situation, because as well he had a lot of pressure from the media because expectations for him were big, but it is what it is. He could have been phenomenal."
Arteta, who was appointed as Unai Emery's successor in December, is assessing the quality within Arsenal's playing staff, and that forensic examination includes looking at stars sent out on loan. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has caught the eye at times with Roma in Serie A this season, and Arteta is keeping tabs on a 31-year-old player whose Arsenal future looked to be bleak, with a view to possibly including him in plans for the 2020-21 campaign.
"'Mik' has been doing really well in recent games," said Arteta. "We know the player he has been in the past and we need to have all the information to make the right decisions in the future. I always liked him. He's the type of player that can fit into any team when he's at his best. He needs to do it consistently. Here he had moments, and that's what we have to assess. It's a possibility that we have and we'll consider."
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