Wilshere made his full return to football on Saturday in Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Queen’s Park Rangers. The 20-year-old had been sidelined for 17 months after suffering an ankle injury and undergoing subsequent ankle and knee surgeries.
Vermaelen told his club’s website,
“He’s an amazing player. I think he can be one of the best midfielders in world because what he did his first year was great.”
The young Englishman made impressive performances for the Gunners in his breakthrough season in 2010/11. He appeared as an understudy to former Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas but the young playmaker now finds himself playing in a very different team – alongside Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted the youngster will be handled with caution and will be eased back into regular first-team football. But the young man looked bright last weekend, his first-touch, movement and technique seemingly remain intact even after such a long spell out of the game.
“You could see he looked sharp,” continued the captain.
“In midfield he was on the ball a lot and he can only get better in the following games.”
Wilshere played 67 minutes against QPR and was substituted after riding a couple of challenges but, to the relief of his manager and fans, he appeared to be unharmed.
In his post-match interview the player appeared visibly delighted to be back. He told reporters,
“I’m happy to be out there and healthy again. The feeling – I was just running around smiling – was amazing.”
He thanked his family and the Arsenal medical staff for their support during his time out with the injury that Arsene Wenger had described as “career threatening.”
“My family have helped me so much,” he said.
“My dad has always been there, my mum as well. I think they were just as excited and nervous as me coming back. Then there’s the Arsenal medical team, the physio Colin Lewin, fitness trainer Declan Lynch, who came in during June when I was really down. Things like that – it wasn’t just his rehab, it was his attitude as well, he helped pick me up."
image: © Ronnie Macdonald