Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has revealed midfielder Jack Wilshere could finally return to action "within a month", according to reports in the British press.
A February return had been pencilled in, only for the 20-year-old to suffer a stress fracture in his right foot as he continued his rehabilitation.
Wenger has revealed Wilshere's recovery is going well and the midfielder could be back within a month if all goes to plan.
"Jack can be back within a month if all goes well," said Wenger.
"The recovery of his latest problems looks very good. The latest scan was very positive.
"We go cautiously step-by-step because we tried to push him back quicker in the first instance and he had a setback. So this time we have to be cautious and not go too quick.
"He can be back before then end of the season, of course."England midfielder Jack Wilshere is expected to return to action within the next six weeks.
Arsenal feel Wilshere is making better than expected progress after a second and smaller stress fracture in his foot, according to the Daily Mirror.
Wilshere aims to return in time to prove his fitness for England's Euro 2012 squad, and wants to be back within the next six weeks.
A stress fracture to the midfielder's heel came to light after returning to training following surgery on a foot injury.
But Wilshere is making such good progress that his scan has been brought forward to this week, and he has his fingers crossed he'll get the all-clear from specialists.
However, other reports suggested the 20-year-old is taking a cautious approach to his rehabilitation to ensure he does not breakdown again.
Wilshere has not featured in Arsenal's campaign since picking up the injury during a pre-season tour of the Far East.
Meanwhile, Per Mertesacker is facing a lengthy lay-off with Arsenal already facing a potential fixture nightmare.
The German centre-half damaged ankle ligaments against Sunderland on Saturday and has flown to Munich for treatment following an MRI scan, according to the Daily Mirror.
Mertesacker, who is expected to be out for several weeks, will see the German national team's doctors as he will miss their friendly against France at the end of the month.
But it gives Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger a headache not just for Wednesday night's Champions League trip to AC Milan, but for the Gunners' return to Sunderland at the weekend for an FA Cup fifth round tie.
Wenger may have to rest and rotate for the Cup match - especially as any replay will be scheduled to take place just three days later.
The police and FA have ordered any required replay to happen next Tuesday, as the subsequent midweek is taken up with international fixtures and Arsenal face Milan at the Emirates the following midweek.
That leaves Wenger concerned his players could be left burnt out by the fixture congestion after a difficult and gruelling trip to Milan and may leave him facing the prospect of resting players on Saturday if they are jaded.
Wenger is desperate to win silverware this season, but dealing with Milan and finishing fourth are higher on his agenda than the FA Cup.
Arsenal are set to use Kieran Gibbs at left-back in Milan, with Thomas Vermaelen reverting to central defence.
Mertesacker is hoping to be back for the home leg against Milan on March 6.
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