Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Jack Wilshere is ahead of schedule in his battle to return to top form following his long-term injury absence.
Wenger has admitted that he did not expect to see the England international return to his previous best until after the turn of the year but, following an impressive showing against West Brom, believes he is now already close to his peak once again.
Wilshere was left out of the squad that suffered defeat against Olympiakos in the Champions League on Tuesday but the French coach acknowledged that it is becoming increasingly difficult for him to rest the 20-year-old due to his importance to the team.
"This is the first time I see him very, very close to the player he is," Wenger told reporters after the 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium.
"We have to see if he has no reaction. It was good to leave him at home in midweek [for the Champions League tie against Olympiakos] to give him a breather from time to time.
"But when he plays at that level, and you are under the pressure we are under to win the games, it is difficult to leave him out.
"Jack analyses his game well and is very demanding with himself, he works hard in training.
"The surprising thing for me is that he is [ahead of schedule]. I expected him to be back at his best next year, in February. He looks [close to his best] much earlier than I expected him to be."