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The Belgian centre-back has backed the Gunners' 20-year old playmaker to become one of the best midfielders on the planet, and believes his return will lift the north London side

Thomas Vermaelen believes that his Arsenal team-mate Jack Wilshere has the potential to be one of the best midfielders in the world.

The young English playmaker has been out for 14 months with several ankle and knee injuries, but has returned to action with the Under-21s.

"You know what he did in his first full season for Arsenal - he was amazing," Vermaelen told the club's official website.

"For me, he can be one of the best midfielders in the world. He has the potential for that.

"I’m really happy he's coming back now. He's working on his match fitness and that’s the most important thing. I think in the future [he] will lift the team."

Although Wilshere has been absent for over a year, Vermaelen believes he can return as a better player with new strengths, citing his own injury-plagued 2010-11 season.

"When I was out with injury, I was in the gym a lot," the Belgian added. "Jack was in the gym even longer working hard on his weaknesses.

"You can see that now in his body on the pitch. For me he looks much stronger and that's good. Sometimes you have to take the positives when you’re out for more than a year and I think he’s done that."

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