Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere says making his return to the first team in the 0-0 draw against Sunderland is a “massive” moment in his career.
Having suffered a broken leg in pre-season, Wilshere made his first Premier League appearance for 11 months when he replaced Mesut Ozil for the final six minutes at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
The 24-year-old is hoping to play a key part in Arsenal’s final three games this season and win a place in England’s Euro 2016 squad.
After the match, Wilshere looked forward to another week of full training which he hopes will strengthen his place in Arsene Wenger’s plans ahead of the game with Norwich City next Saturday.
“It was great to be back on the pitch,” he said to Sky Sports. “For me personally it is massive, great to be back involved with the first team.
“You can train, you can play with the Under-21s all you like but that is where it really matters out there. There is a lot of difference quality-wise.
“The tempo is faster and you are playing against a team in Sunderland who are fighting for their lives – they need to stay up this year – so I think it [the difference] just comes with the occasion, it is a big game, better quality players and it is quicker.
“After my third Under-21s game I felt really good and I spoke with the boss, he agreed and picked me to come to Sunderland.
“Knowing the boss he is not one just to put me in there because I haven’t been involved all year he must feel I am ready. I have got another big week’s training trying to get fitter, sharper and we will go again next weekend.”
On the draw with Sunderland, Wilshere felt frustrated at Arsenal’s inability to pick up all three points and suggested the squad already have one eye on the crucial match at top-four rivals Manchester City on May 8.
He continued: “Of course we are disappointed not to win the game and we feel that we should have. We dominated it and we maybe lacked a bit of composure in the final third. Now it [the top-four race] is interesting. We still feel we have got the quality.
“We have got Norwich at home next weekend – a game we feel we can win – and I suppose it could come down to the week after that when we have got City away which is obviously going to be a massive game. We know that and we will be ready when that one comes.”