Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned Manchester City they no longer need to sell players like Jack Wilshere – but can offer no guarantees of first-team football for anyone at the Emirates Stadium.
Reports have linked City with a summer move for England midfielder Wilshere as they look to rebuild an aging squad.
Wenger, however, insists Arsenal are not about to listen to offers for 23-year-old Wilshere, who has been at the club since the age of nine, or indeed anyone else as the Gunners aim to remain competitive at the top end of the Barclays Premier League.
“We are not in a position any more where we have to sell our best players,” said Wenger.
“We cannot make a case of any headline in any newspaper in a press conference from things that are not true.”
Wilshere has recovered from minor ankle surgery and could be in line to make a first appearance since the end of November at Burnley on Saturday.
Wenger added: “Everybody can have a big impact until the end of the season, Jack included.
“Every player who doesn’t play is very frustrated when he can not perform – (Abou) Diaby has been out for a year, (Theo) Walcott has been out for a year.
“Wilshere has played many games this year, he was out, but not for as long as Walcott or Diaby.”
Wilshere played an Arsenal under-21s match against Stoke earlier this week, along with captain Mikel Arteta and midfielder Abou Diaby, who are both also stepping up their rehabilitation from injury.
With full-back Mathieu Debuchy also having recovered from shoulder surgery, Wenger has plenty of options available for the run-in.
“We are all in a fantastic position, but our job is competing,” said Wenger.
“You cannot say that you have to accept to compete, if you cannot compete then you have nothing to do in this job.”
The Arsenal boss added: “Everybody is rated exactly the same and you respect everybody and want everybody to just contribute to the team.”
Defender Laurent Koscielny (groin) and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (rib) face fitness tests ahead of the trip to Turf Moor.
Arsenal have moved up into second place following a superb run of form, with last weekend’s 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool, a seventh straight Premier League win which leaves them seven points off leaders Chelsea, who hold a match in hand.
The Gunners are also set for an FA Cup semi-final against Reading at Wembley next Saturday as they aim to finish the campaign in style.
“The target of the work during the season is that your team becomes stronger and we still have many challenges until the end of the season,” said Wenger.
“It is interesting that we are in good form and it is interesting that we have a good team dynamic.
“Hopefully we can maintain that until the end of the season, then we will see where we stand.
“We look behind us and people are chasing us, in front of us there is quite a big distance with Chelsea, but we work very hard to reduce that.”
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