Jack Wilshere says starting the Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea as Arsenal captain was a ‘special moment’ for him given last year he had doubts about whether he’d return to the Emirates.
Assuming the 26-year-old recovers from the ankle knock he picked up at Stamford Bridge, he should start in midfield against Bournemouth, the club that took him on a restorative loan deal last campaign.
Reflecting on Arsene Wenger’s decision to award him the captain’s armband, Wilshere said he’d had to work hard and play the long game to prove he still has the qualities to succeed at the highest level.
“I want to be Arsenal captain,” he told Sky Sports. “I really enjoyed the other night, it was my first start as captain and walking the boys out was a special feeling for me and my family so that is something that I want to do. I never really stopped dreaming about that.
“There was a time last year when Arsenal were playing against Bournemouth at the Vitality where I sat in the crowd watching and thinking ‘am I going to go back to Arsenal and play?’ but apart from that, I never really thought about not becoming the player everyone thought I would be or not fulfilling my potential.
“I just wanted to prove my fitness at Bournemouth then come back here and try and get into the team. I played the long game and I worked hard. I’m not saying that’s over but I’m the team now and I need to work even harder maybe to keep my place and improve as a player as well.”
Wilshere also took the opportunity to again hint that his long-term future remains at Arsenal, even though the club have yet to confirm a new contract.
“There’s not a decision to make in January. I’ve still got six months left of my contract, I’m an Arsenal player and I’m enjoying playing week in, week out. I’ve had loads of questions about my future and there’s nothing more I can say until something’s official and we can concentrate on the future but right now, I’m concentrating on each game as it comes.
“I’ve just got back into the team and the club, I suppose, were just waiting for that moment where I’ve proved my fitness and I’ve proved that I can play in the Premier League each week for a top club so now that’s happened.
“We’re not waiting for anything really, maybe the right time when there’s a little break in the fixtures – which there’s not – but I’m sure in a couple of weeks, something will get done or the boss will say something and we’ll go from there.”
For more quotes from Jack, including updates on his England ambitions, his attitude towards game preparation and more, check out the full Sky Sports interview.