Jack Wilshere says he never gave up hope of earning a recall to the England national team after finally forcing his way back into the squad for the first time since Euro 2016.
The midfielder was overlooked by Gareth Southgate in the first half of the season with the Three Lions boss concerned by a lack of game time.
Recovering from a fractured leg sustained at the tail-end of last season – and with a history of injury setbacks on his CV – Arsene Wenger initially opted to limit Wilshere’s exposure to the Europa League and Carabao Cup. Since December however, the 26-year-old has featured much more prominently making 16 Premier League appearances.
“It’s always an honour to play for my country – I’ve said that many times,” Wilshere said when asked about the recall.
“I never gave up hope – I believed in myself and I believed in my ability. It was just about getting games in the Premier League, as the manager said. I’ve done that and now it’s down to me to repay him.”
He added: “There was always that little bit of hope that I’d get back in there. I put the pressure on earlier in the season and the manager made it clear what he wanted me to do.
“I’ve done that and it’s down to me to repay him and prove to everyone I can still perform at that level.”
Speaking after Arsenal secured safe passage to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, where they will play CSKA Moscow, Wilshere also touched on how he and his teammates have arrested the alarming downturn in form that saw them lose four games on the bounce.
“Everyone is giving a little bit more physically when things don’t go our way,” he noted after a third consecutive win for the Gunners.
“If you’re having a bad game, or things aren’t going your way, the one thing you can always promise is that you’ll run around.
“You have to give your all and I think we’re doing that. We had a few bad results and everyone had a good hard look at themselves, and we have responded.
“We have responded with three big performances and we have set the bar now. We need to do that week in, week out.”