I don’t want to place too much store in tabloid rumours, but the suggestion that Jack Wilshere will not return to first team action until at least the middle of September is quite alarming.
We all saw how Tomas Rosicky missed over 18 months of first team action with complications relating to a hamstring tendon injury.
His comeback was frequently mooted and just as frequently postponed and it is only really in the last 12 months that we have seen anything like a return to the form he first showed for us.
Wilshere’s injury – a stress fracture of the ankle – occurred in a pre-season friendly last summer and he was scheduled to be out for four-to-five months. In the end we didn’t see him at all for the rest of the season.
Disappointing, of course, but at least we could console ourselves with the fact that he would be fit and raring to go for the start of the 2012/13 season.
Now that possibility appears to have gone South too. His return is slated in for mid September – by which time we may well have played four EPL fixtures and a Champions League group game.
And that’s if he even makes it back on that time scale.
Following the experience with Rosicky and, more recently, the luckless Abou Diaby, it would not be an earth shattering surprise to find Jack’s return delayed further.
Naturally I hope that’s not the case, but an injury (or series of injuries) that keeps a fit young man off the field of play for more than a year cannot be taken lightly.
And we cannot assume that his path back to match fitness will not be trouble-free.
All of which raises a very important question for our club:
Should we be signing a creative midfielder to cover a potential longer-term absence for Jack Wilshere?
The tactical Posts of recent days here on AA – and the excellent comments they spawned – have thrown up ways in which we may not need to directly replace Jack (RvP dropping back to a Number 10, with Giroud or Podolski in front, for example).
And given that many of us expect Wilshere to be the most gifted young player of his generation it’s not as if we can pick up a replacement for pennies (or easily find someone who is prepared to play for a couple of months then drop to the bench when Wilshere returns).
But I am coming round to the idea of us moving for an attacking midfielder in this summer’s window.
Don’t ask me who that player should be (there are many player-watchers on this site who are infinitely better informed than me). But I’m imagining an older player – someone around the 30/31 age range, who has played in Italy or Spain at a less fashionable club but has the guile needed for the role.
They won’t be as good as Cesc Fabregas or as good as we hope Jack Wilshere is going to be, but they will have the technique and touch that was so patently lacking among the English squad at the Euros.
And they’ll be happy to be at Arsenal, even though they know they may not be an automatic starting pick in the longer term
Tall order, I know.
Am I worrying too much?
Can we get by another season (if the worst comes to pass) without being really badly affected by having no Wilshere?
Should we sign a replacement?
If so, who could it realistically be?
Over to you…