Jack Wilshere is “not a smoker”: Arsene Wenger in London Colney

Jack Wilshere has hit the headlines

Jack Wilshere has hit the headlines - Credit: Archant

Arsenal has been hit by another smoke bomb as the second player in just over a month, Harpenden-based midfielder Jack Wilshere, has been pictured in the press holding a shisha pipe in a London bar.

Yet at today’s (Friday) press conference at the team’s London Colney training grounds, boss Arsene Wenger did not hide behind a smoke-screen when reporters quizzed him on the issue.

Jack, 23, was believed to have been snapped at the Sports Bar and Grill in Piccadilly Circus.

When the venue was officially opened in September last year among the 175 guests were former England footballer and sports pundit Mark Bright and legendary Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour.

According to Action on Smoking and Health, waterpipes (shisha), also known as hookahs, have long been used for smoking tobacco in the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia.

Shisha can be used to smoke a number of substances, but are largely used to smoke tobacco which may be flavoured with fruits or sugar syrup and herbal mixtures – which do not contain tobacco or nicotine.

Wenger said that the midfielder was not a smoker and that the photograph, where a relaxed Wilshere is shown holding the waterpipe alongside several women, was just “one second” of his life, and such a moment “does not define who you are”.

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The England footballer has previously been photographed holding a cigarette twice, and Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny was apparently fined for smoking in the showers after the Gunners lost to Southampton on New Year’s Day.

Wenger praised Wilshere, who is nearly back to full fitness, for his commitment to the team, saying that he was always the first to arrive at training, and the last to leave.

Asked how disappointed he was, Wenger refused to criticise the star Gunner, saying instead that he had spoken with him and that Wilshere “is of course sorry for what happened”.

Wenger said that the footballer had been watching the super bowl, and that when not in training, he had a life outside of Arsenal – the photo was taken at 12.30am.

Last night Wilshere posted on Instagram: “Worry about your character not your reputation, because your character is who you are and your reputation is only what people who don’t know you think about you!”

Asked whether the club had a “smoking culture” Wenger said that such a suggestion was “wrong”.

He praised Wilshere as a “very professional player”.

Reflecting upon Harry Redknapp’s decision to quit QPR, Wenger said that the news had come as a shock, “but when it is for health reasons, you feel sorry. It was a complete surprise.”

In regard to those players still recovering from injuries, Wenger confirmed that Alexis Sanchez is out for tomorrow’s derby against Tottenham, Danny Welbeck is back, and Wilshere is “ahead of schedule” and back in training next week.

Yesterday (Thursday) Wenger said that Sanchez, “is not ready. He is not far away, the Leicester game is a possibility. He is of course very difficult to keep quiet! He is training but it’s light training.”

Arsenal’s website said that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still out and while he is starting to practice again, he is not in full training.

At the press conference Wenger said that Sanchez “is very keen” to play.

He added that the footballer hoped to defy medical advice on how quickly he could return to the pitch.

• Tottenham Hotspur V Arsenal, White Hart Lane, Saturday February 7, 12.45pm