Wenger keen to keep hold of Wilshere

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged young prodigy Jack Wilshere to break into the Gunners' first-team this season on the back of an impressive pre-season.

The 18-year-old playmaker spent the second half of last season on loan at Bolton Wanderers and has continued to impress Wenger, playing the entire 90 minutes in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Austrian team Sturm Graz on Wednesday.

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With Barcelona’s pursuit of Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas showing no signs of easing up, Wenger believes now is the time for Wilshere to step up to the plate and prove his worth at Emirates Stadium.

"At the moment, I want Jack to gain experience and, if possible, at Arsenal. I will give him a chance to play now," Wenger said in The Sun.

"I want to see if he can integrate with the first team. Of course, I will make that decision later. Ideally, it is better that he gains experience with us.

"Jack has done well. I am keen not to create too much hype around the young English players because they need to work hard. We do have outstanding English talent at this club, though."

Wilshere is widely considered to be the long-term successor to Fabregas and Owen Coyle is thought to be keen on taking the midfielder back to the Reebok Stadium on a similar arrangement this season.

However, Wenger is going to give the England under-21 star until the end of the transfer window next month before he makes a final decision on whether or not to sell Fabregas.

By James Martini

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