Wenger pleasantly surprised by Wilshere’s rapid progress

SHAKHTAR DONETSK vs ARSENAL

ARSENAL?manager Arsene Wenger is without his influential captain Cesc Fabregas for this evening’s Group H clash in Donetsk, but the Frenchman is confident Jack Wilshere will prove a more than capable deputy.

The 18-year-old prodigy signed a new long-term contract with the north London club on Monday and will deputise for Fabregas, whose troublesome hamstring is not being risked tonight ahead of Sunday’s Premier League visit of Newcastle.

Wilshere has established himself as a key component of Wenger’s midfield this season and was the star of the show a fortnight ago in the reverse fixture, scoring his first Champions League goal in the 5-1 rout.

“When Fabregas is not there you have to share a little bit the decisive passing, the building up of the game between Nasri, Wilshere or Rosicky for example, so that is the task we have,” said Wenger.

“We have many creative players who can create good passes and that’s what I count on. Wilshere is not scared to take the ball so he will have a part of it to do.”

Wenger added: “I am very much surprised [by Wilshere’s quick development]. I didn’t expect that to happen so quickly. You have to be open-minded in our job.”