JACK WILSHERE finally feels like “a proper Arsenal player” once again.
The midfielder is ready to launch a serious challenge for a regular place in Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up after winning the battles with injury.
Wilshere, 25, is in the final year of his £90,000-a-week contract and in no rush to talk about a new deal.
Yet he insists his future remains with the club he joined aged nine – despite spending last season out on loan at Bournemouth.
Wilshere was outstanding in Gunners’ 4-2 Europa League win over Bate Borisov. And he declared: “Of course I want to stay at Arsenal. I love this club.
“I have a great relationship with the boss, who has played me since I was 17 and put his trust in me ever since.
“Now is not the right time for me or the club to discuss my contract but I am always playing for my future.
“It has been quite a while since I felt like a proper Arsenal player, but I definitely feel I am back.
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“I couldn’t remember the last time I played a European game away. So I’m just making the most of working with these top players again.
“It felt good coming back after my loan spell. I do feel that some people have forgotten what I have done for this club — but that is part and parcel of football.
“Everyone says ‘Jack Wilshere is never fit.’ But I played almost all of last season for Bournemouth and it was only in April that I picked up an impact injury.
“I was out for four months with the fractured shin. But I’ve had worse injuries than that.”
Thursday’s game in Belarus was only Wilshere’s second full 90 minutes for Arsenal in three years and he expects to be back on the bench against Brighton tomorrow.
He says: “You want to be involved in every game, but I understand that the team have been playing well without me.
“I’m not looking too far ahead. We have another game on Sunday, more League Cup and Europa League matches, so I’m happy to be a part of the squad.”
Wilshere won the last of his 34 England caps in the disastrous Euro 2016 defeat by Iceland. But Gareth Southgate admits he is keeping an eye on the midfielder.
The Three Lions boss said: “I saw Jack play an Under-23s game not so long ago.
“But that was only for an hour so he’s still building up his minutes.
“With Jack’s history of injury, we’ve got to give him a bit more time to come through a few games before we think of selecting him.”