I hope I don’t unduly upset anyone by saying I’m not at all disappointed that Jack Wilshere has been ruled out of Wednesday’s match against Bayern. Of course, if it turns out to be the real thing–an actual injury–I may live to regret saying that. As it stands, I find the timing of the announcement just fishy enough to make me wonder if the real issue is giving him time to rest. He’s apparently been in Dubai recuperating from an injury he picked up against Spurs. He wasn’t subbed off, so he did play the full 90 minutes, and it’s been a eight days since the match. My theory, amateur as it may be (at least until someone pays me to have them, changing me to a professional possessor of amateur opinions), pertains to Ribéry just as well: coaches if not players are using the injury report to recuse themselves from games. It wouldn’t be the first time a coach or player has gone this route. Ribéry, perhaps sensing that his services just aren’t needed for this second leg, will simply sit out to rest up for some other, more vital match. Wilshere, perhaps perceiving that his services just won’t matter terribly much, can rest up for Saturday’s trip to Swansea, where his presence does significantly alter our prospects in a game we need much more. After all, for as remote as victory on Wednesday may be, the team could not just announce that Wilshere would sit; this would be unacceptable capitulation, a signal that we’ve quit. A ginned-up injury provides adequate cover. Assuming that I’m onto something here, I wouldn’t mind if, say, Cazorla woke up with an ouchie that keeps him out as well.
Having said all of this, it’s all together too painful to read anything that contains the words “ankle injury” and the name “Jack Wilshere.” His ankle surgery was just over a year ago, and he only returned to action in November 2012. There’s no word on whether it’s the same ankle. His surgeon from the April surgery, Håkan Alfredsson, plies his trade in Sweden, and the only other reports I could track down refer only to “world-renowned specialists”. Not enough to prove me right, unfortunately. Whatever the case, we shall pray that the sands of the beaches of Dubai give Jack a chance to flex, stretch, and roll that ankle into playing shape by the weekend.