Jack Wilshere will play for Arsenal in FA Cup replay against Swansea

Arsène Wenger will select Jack Wilshere for the replay against Swansea but has acknowledged the England midfielder will need to be rested over the second half of the season if he is to retain his zest across a cluttered schedule.

Wilshere returned to the first-team after a 17-month absence with ankle and knee complaints in late October and has started all but two of the domestic fixtures for which he has been available since. He was Arsenal's most industrious player in Sunday's home defeat to Manchester City, a game in which the hosts were forced to play with 10 men for 80 minutes, though Wenger will be reliant upon the 21-year-old for the foreseeable future with Mikel Arteta expected to miss the next fortnight with a calf injury.

Asked whether he would look to rest Wilshere with an awkward trip to Chelsea looming on Sunday and the resumption of the Champions League, against Bayern Munich, to come next month, Wenger said: "Maybe not in this period, [but] at some stage I will do it. At the moment I don't think he is overloaded because he just came back very recently, and you get the feeling he gets stronger. We have a good approach taking the physical analysis and statistical analysis between what the player feels and what the medical department thinks, and you have to come to a conclusion on that. At the moment, all these three are positives so I don't think at the moment I will rest him immediately. But it will happen.

"I trust my eyes [that he has regained his burst of pace] and I would say you have seen the game against Manchester City, you are confident that he can pass people. One month ago you could see he would have to fight with his body to get past people. Against City he looked comfortable to do that. I believe the most important thing is that he has talent and loves football. As long as he loves football, he will improve. Jack is someone who wants to improve, he has a good attitude and, if he keeps that, he will always continue to grow. 

"Let's not set any limitations [on how good he can be]. What is important is the day he will have made his career and thinks: 'I have been as good as I could have hoped to be.' I have managed many great players in my life, and the one common thing in their career is that they always wanted to improve. Every day they had 100% focus. That is the only thing I can say about the players I have had who were top talents, they had that basic attitude right."

A scan has revealed Arteta suffered only a "minor calf strain" in training ahead of the City game and his absence may not stretch to the three weeks first feared. Arsenal's pursuit of silverware potentially hinges upon progress beyond Swansea, given that Bayern await in Europe, with Wenger urging his players to deal better with that pressure than they did at the weekend. "I feel in games like against City, this team wants to do so much that we start nervous," he added. "We have to deal with that kind of pressure well.

"I've always been 100% appreciative of the attitude of this group of players. Their qualities are absolutely outstanding. I've said so many times that I want them to be rewarded. We have to deal with that pressure a little bit better and not transform that desire into tension. The top level is a good mixture and a good balance between desire and freedom. The tension can transform you a little bit. I felt that's what happened against City.

"We want to transform our desire into a positive attitude and that's what is at stake. … [The FA Cup] is pure football, it is where the fate and the destiny of the teams are decided as well. Sometimes a cold night out in London or in Sheffield, that is where the team has to turn up to win the game."

Michael Laudrup is likely to make changes but will have to do without his new signing Roland Lamah, who has joined on an 18-month loan from Osasuna. The 25-year-old winger was not registered in time.

TV: ESPN, kick-off 7.30pm

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Dominic Fifield, for The Guardian on Tuesday 15th January 2013 23.00 Europe/London

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image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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