Jack Wilshere feels his time without a club helped rekindle his love for the game and is excited about the “different challenge” ahead with promotion-hopefuls Bournemouth in the Sky Bet Championship.
The 29-year-old left West Ham by mutual consent in October and spent three months out of the professional game while he trained on his own to keep fit.
Following a tough spell at the London Stadium – where he only made 19 appearances in two seasons – the former England and Arsenal midfielder is ready to grab this opportunity with the Cherries.
“It made me realise, my time away, how much I miss it and how much I love the game, so it is really good to be back,” Wilshere said.
“When you have been doing it for 10 years every day, sometimes you can take it for granted.
“Sometimes you’ll wake up and struggle and not really want to go in, but it made me realise how much I actually do love it and how much I missed being around the lads, being in that environment where there is pressure and you have to challenge yourself.
“It was difficult, but now I am back and really excited.”
Wilshere is at Bournemouth for a second time after he enjoyed a successful loan spell with the south coast club in the 2016-17 campaign.
A lot has changed since with the Cherries relegated from the Premier League last summer and no longer managed by Eddie Howe, while the Gunners academy graduate has struggled for game time due to injuries and then a lack of opportunities under David Moyes at West Ham.
He made a second debut for Bournemouth in Tuesday’s defeat at Derby and – while in the second tier for the first time – he is excited by the task at hand of trying to win promotion.
“This current moment in my career, I am a Championship player, so no I don’t see myself as a Premier League player at the moment,” Wilshere insisted.
“I’m focused on the job at hand here. I know it is a difficult league and there are a lot of games so it will be a different challenge to anything I have ever experienced in my career, but I’m excited about that.
“I still feel like I have a lot to give to the game and I am excited to get some games now.”
On an initial deal for the rest of the campaign, the two-time FA Cup winner hinted he could extend his stay at the Vitality Stadium.
Wilshere said: “At the moment my contract is until the end of the season and I am focused on literally trying to get this club back into the Premier League.
“If it all goes well and we do (go up) then who knows, maybe. At the moment I’m just focused on the next four or five months and to get this club back in the Premier League.”
The 34-capped England international admitted Bournemouth were the only Championship club he would have signed for after having other options at that level.
Following a conversation with boss Jason Tindall in December, Wilshere linked up with the group to initially keep up his fitness, but was delighted when the opportunity to join on a permanent basis materialised.
“I had options in the Championship but none that made me feel the way Bournemouth did and obviously I have a special relationship with them after what we achieved when I was here before,” the midfielder said.
“I had a few different options around Europe and Asia and places like that, but when my agent rang me after about a week of training here and said Bournemouth wanted to do something, I was driving home and couldn’t stop smiling.
“That felt right to me and I didn’t have that feeling from any of the other clubs. This one just felt right.”
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