Jack Wilshere has insisted he is ready to battle for a starting place in Arsenal's team after he claimed that his fitness levels are "the best they've ever been".
The Gunners midfielder seems to be working his way back into the first-team fold at Emirates stadium after 12 months out in the cold from north London and with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
Speaking to the club's official site, however, Wilshere stated that he felt he was fitter than he'd ever been in his professional career and, following 90 minute run outs against Doncaster and BATE Borisov in the Carabao Cup and Europa League, is eyeing more regular minutes under Arsene Wenger once more.
He said: “I always hear the boss say it's my first five-metre burst, when I receive the ball and get away from defenders, and I feel that’s getting better and better each day.
“I feel like the way to improve that is in games when you’re playing against opposition that want to win and want to win the ball back and you have to be able to keep the ball.
“That’s coming back and my fitness levels, if I’m honest, are probably the best they’ve ever been. I look at my numbers after the game and I’ve been out for four months and I’m not the one who hasn’t run the most.
"Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t run the most, we’ve got a lot of players that do that, but my numbers are good so I’m happy.”
Wilshere's career has been beseiged by numerous niggle and long-term injuries that have halted his progression into the fully fledged star many predicted he would become.
After overcoming his latest set back - a torn calf muscle from his Bournemouth loan spell last season - the 25-year-old added that he is now well aware that his training regime needs to be adapted to prevent other issues arising in the future.
He said: “When I first broke into the first team, even looking back when I was 16, you take things for granted. I was training every day and when you’re a 16-year-old, you can do that.
“As you get older your body changes, you pick up injuries, you have to be more careful with certain situations and it makes you stronger as well. I’ve always loved playing football and that’s what I wanted to do.
“Of course there’s been times when it’s been tough, when you’re injured and you wake up in the morning, you think ‘Oh I’ve got to go to training, all the other lads are training, you’ve got to go to the gym’. That makes you stronger and it makes you appreciate it more and try and do everything you can to keep fit and keep on the pitch.”