Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he could use Bournemouth midfielder Jack Wilshere in his injury-hit team now.
Wilshere was sent on a season-long loan by Arsenal in August, with the England international impressing in the Premier League.
Wenger, meanwhile, is still without Santi Cazorla and now has Francis Coquelin sidelined for four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Asked if he could have used Wilshere now, the Frenchman said: “Yes, I could use him now.
“But if he had not played until now, he would not be ready to play now. What looks unfair is that at some moment in the season you know you could need the player.
“But even at the start of the season you need to have the right balance between competition and numbers and chances for the player to play.
“And still today I think it was the right decision for him to go to Bournemouth.”
Wilshere has made 17 league appearances – 15 for Bournemouth – this season, his highest number since 2013-14.
But Wenger believes there were no chance of sending the 25-year-old on loan until January.
“In the Premier League, I think no. It’s season-long loans in the Premier League,” he said.
Arsenal are away at Preston North End in the FA Cup on Saturday.