West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has admitted his admiration for Jack Wilshere but refused to confirm recent reports claiming that the Hammers have earmarked the signing of the Arsenal midfielder as a priority for the coming summer transfer window.
Eddie Howe recently revealed that Bournemouth are interested in getting the 25-year-old midfielder on permanent basis after the Arsenal star had impressed during his loan spell at Dean Court.
However, earlier this week The Sun reported that West Ham are also ready to pay around £30m ($37.3m) to beat them for his signing as the club are looking for a high-profile playmaker to fill the gap left by the January departure of Dimitri Payet to Marseille.
Bilic has admitted that Wilshere is "a great player at a great age" but suggests that the links with the Arsenal midfielder are currently only rumours.
"You're always planning, even in August. If you didn't do what you hoped you'd do well after the transfer window, then you are planning for January or the next season. 80% of the time you are focused on the next game, or three or four games, and then what you need for next season," Bilic said as quoted by SkySports.
"I've said that all the players that are looking for a move or the club is looking to sell them, it's rumours and they are linked with us. There's no point discussing it,"
"If you are talking about Jack Wilshere as a player that's different. Of course he is a great player with great ability but because of injures had a setback, had to go on loan to Bournemouth but he's a great player at a great age."
Elsewhere, Bilic provided a positive injury update ahead of his side trip to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night (5 April) after revealing that both Michail Antonio and Diafra Sakho could be ready to return to action.
"Mikey Antonio is back, which is of course good news for us, great news for us. Mikey trained the last couple of days and he had a small chance to make it for the Hull game, but it was too early for him. We're going to see him on Tuesday and he's definitely going to be involved in the game, but whether he is going to start or not depends. It looks really good and it's a big boost for us because we are talking about one of our best players," the West Ham boss said while also confirming that the club plan to hand a new deal to the England international.
"He can definitely make the difference we need, because he is making that difference week-in, week-out, this season and last season after he came into the team over the Christmas period. He's been doing it all the time and, as I said, it's a big boost for us ahead of a big game against Arsenal."
Antonio could thus even start against Arsenal but Shako will surely have to wait a little bit more as has been out of action since undergoing a back surgery in November.
"Diafra is back. When you talk to him, he is ready, he can't wait. It was only because it was not like a hamstring injury, he was out for a long time, he had the operation on his back and he is looking really good," Bilici said ahead of the derby. "Of course he is lacking match practice, but he has to start somewhere and he may be on the bench tomorrow, even. I have not decided yet, because of the length of his absence, but he is very, very close to that."
However, Bilic also ruled Aaron Cresswell out for the game after the left-back suffered a muscle injury during the defeat to Hull.
"Cresswell is out for this week and it should be only this week, so it should only be a couple of games," Bilic confirmed. "We are talking about him being out against Arsenal and Swansea, but he should be back in training next week and available for the Sunderland game."
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