By Editor Wayne Veysey | Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this

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Jack Wilshere is targeting a return to action for Arsenal on Boxing Day as he recovers from the latest in a series of injury nightmares.

The midfielder is on the comeback trail after undergoing surgery in September on his fractured left fibula.

An Arsenal source has told Football Insider that Wilshere is targeting the Gunners’ Premier League trip to Southampton on 26 December. He also believes he could be an outside bet for the showdown against Manchester City on 21 December.

Wilshere, who has not yet played this season, is running freely outdoors and is stepping up his ball work as he closes in on a return.

The return of Wilshere this month would be a huge boost to Arsene Wenger, who will be without his first-choice central midfield duo Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla for at least three months and perhaps the rest of the season.

With Mikel Arteta suffering from a chronic calf condition, Wenger is desperately short of options in midfield, particularly for the crucial anchorman role.

Wilshere has been used in that position successfully for England, but has rarely played there for his club.

Speaking last month on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday programme, Wilshere was reluctant to name a specific comeback date, but admitted that he hoped to be playing again by the new year.

Jack the knife: Wilshere underwent surgery on his left fibula in mid-September

Jack the knife: Wilshere underwent surgery on his left fibula in mid-September

Wilshere has not played in the 2015-16 season after suffering a hairline fracture in training shortly before Arsenal’s Community Shield win over Chelsea.

The midfielder, who missed five months of last season after undergoing surgery for ankle ligament damage, once again went under the knife in September and was advised that he would be ruled out for at least three months, sidelining him until after Christmas.