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Sunday saw the traditional Premier League curtain-raiser in the form of the Community Shield and now, just 48 hours before the start of the new season proper, we have another of football's old favourites – an Arsenal injury crisis.
With Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck already sidelined, and Alexis Sanchez on leave, the Gunners are reeling from the news that Jack Wilshere has what the Daily Mirror describes as a "suspected hairline fracture in his left fibula".
The bone, the smaller of the two in the lower leg, was apparently fractured on Saturday, as Arsenal prepared to play Chelsea in the Community Shield, a match they won 1-0.
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Wilshere sat out the game and while initially Arsenal thought the midfielder's injury was minor, subsequent scans have revealed it's anything but. According to the Mirror the 23-year-old Wilshere is "still hoping that he will not need surgery, which would keep him out for three months". But even the best-case scenario will see him out of action for six to eight weeks.
A decision on whether Wilshere requires surgery will be made by Arsenal's medical staff "before the weekend", but either way the news is a terrible blow for the player, his club and his country.
Wilshere will almost certainly miss England's two Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Switzerland next month, depriving the Three Lions of one of their key players. He scored twice in the 3-2 win against Slovenia in June and for the first time in his international career showed signs of fulfilling his potential.
But injury has stalked Wilshere ever since he emerged as a precocious teenager in 2008-09 and he barely kicked a ball between June 2011 and October 2012 due to a stress fracture of his ankle. During the 2013-14 season he was out for six weeks after suffering a stress fracture to his foot and last season a recurrence of the ankle injury sidelined him for three months.
In an interview last month with Men's Fitness magazine, Wilshere blamed his catalogue of injuries on his frailty as a teenager. "When I first got injured my core strength was terrible," he said. "I was 18, playing three times a week and didn't really do any gym work."
The England star said he'd been working hard with Arsenal's fitness staff in the last few months to strengthen his body, but this latest setback is likely to test his resolve once again. "When you're out for a few months it's tough to come back," explained Wilshere. "It takes a lot of work in the gym with the physios, the specialists, you're willing to try anything that will help you get fit."
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