By London correspondent Tony Hughes

Arsene Wenger has claimed Arsenal can have a “great” season if Jack Wilshere is fit and firing.

The injury-plagued midfielder missed almost the entirety of last season after suffering a shin fracture in pre-season.

He returned at the end of the campaign and was in the England squad that failed miserably at this summer’s European Championships although he had only a bit-part role.

Wilshere has missed Arsenal’s last two pre-season friendlies due to what Wenger called a minor injury and is doubtful for the club’s Premier League opener against Liverpool on Sunday.

But the Arsenal manager is in no doubt about the significance of the versatile midfielder and the difference he can make to the team.

“He has a very big year ahead, I must say his preparation was encouraging,” Wenger said at the Premier League new season launch on Wednesday morning, as quoted by Sky Sports’ live blog (7.24am). “He had a little setback recently but it look very minor and, of course, for us to have a great season it is important to have a great Jack Wilshere.”

Wilshere, 24, made his Arsenal debut at the age of 16 and has been a regular starter when available but has still only made 160 appearances for the club over the last eight years.

In other Arsenal news, the club have stepped up their pursuit of a 24-year-old after an injury update from Gabriel.