Jack Wilshere does not have to leave Arsenal to force himself into the England squad for the World Cup next year, according to Arsene Wenger.
The 25-year-old has not appeared for the Three Lions since featuring in the shock defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016 after being selected by Roy Hodgson despite a lack of fitness.
However, a return to the international fold for Wilshere has been touted following his recovery from a broken leg sustained while on loan at Bournemouth last season.
The midfielder has not been used in the Premier League by Wenger this term, but the Frenchman is confident he will get enough chances at Arsenal to earn a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Asked if Wilshere would have to leave Emirates Stadium in January to go to the World Cup, Wenger replied: “I don’t think so. I believe that Jack is in the best form I’ve seen him for a long time.
“He’s very close to being considered like anybody else and overall I believe he doesn’t necessarily have to leave Arsenal to go to the World Cup.
“If he keeps going like he’s going at the moment, he will go to the World Cup I’m sure because I don’t see Jack being fully fit and not going to the World Cup.
“He has already played games for us since the start of the season and he will play many more. Jack is more of a number 10 than any other player [available to England]. He can open spaces, he can play in tight areas.”
Wilshere may be granted more game time over the congested festive period, with reports suggesting Arsenal could see their match against Liverpool moved to Christmas Eve for broadcasting purposes.
Such suggestions have been met with disdain by a large portion of supporters, but Wenger would not be opposed to playing on that day.
“I know we have to adapt to the schedule dictated by TV. I would say if that happens I think no game should be played after two o’clock at the latest on Christmas Eve,” he said.
“Personally, I would prefer to be at my home on Christmas night and celebrating. I still feel that could happen if we play early in the day.
“What you wouldn’t like to sacrifice is your evening with your family. But we are going into a society where that isn’t considered anymore in any decision. People want to watch football during the Christmas period.”