Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe says Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere must decide for himself where his future lies.
The 25-year-old left north London for the south coast on loan last August, eight years after becoming Arsenal’s youngest league debutant.
Wilshere was a regular in the Bournemouth midfield in the autumn and winter, but a recent spell on the bench has coincided with an upturn in results and he failed to make Gareth Southgate’s recent England squad.
Howe has made no secret of his wish to sign Wilshere permanently, while Arsene Wenger suggested in November he was ready to offer the player a new deal.
Speaking ahead of Saturday evening’s trip to Southampton, Howe said: “Jack will be the one who decides his future, in conjunction with Arsenal.
“It was very clear at the start of this loan he was going to make his decision in terms of the next steps for him in the summer.
“He just wanted to concentrate on his football with us, to try to just have the best season that he can.
“Jack has certainly had a good season with us as far as I am concerned, and it will be interesting to see what happens beyond that point.”
Wilshere made his league debut for Arsenal eight seasons ago and went on to make 51 appearances before his 20th birthday until a succession of injuries halted his progress.
He missed the entirety of the 2011/12 campaign, and played only three matches last season before opting to move away from the glare of the Emirates Stadium.
The midfielder has made 25 appearances for the Cherries but an ankle injury in February put him out of action once again. Upon his return, he had to make do with a place on the Bournemouth bench.
With the Cherries unbeaten in March, he is yet to force his way back into the starting XI though Howe suggested that may change this weekend.
“He is certainly in the mix, a player of his quality,” said Howe. “Jack picked up an ankle injury against Manchester City and in the following games we have picked up some good results, so it has been difficult to change a winning team when it is performing so well.
“We know his qualities and he is ready to go if he is selected on Saturday.”
Turning his attention towards Saturday’s match, Howe said: “From our perspective, it is a slightly different game, Southampton are the nearest club to us, so the supporters would feel the importance of this game and we respect that, we want to give them a win.
“It is a case of looking at the game, knowing its importance especially with the fixtures we have got to come beyond this one.
“We have had three really good results in our last three games, so there is some consistency there, but we know we have got a long way to go.
“Games like this one will define that, so we are looking for a good performance and then hopefully the result will follow.”
A win for 11th-placed Bournemouth would see them jump above Southampton, though the Saints have two games in hand on their local rivals.
It would be a historic win for the visitors, with neither AFC Bournemouth nor the club’s previous incarnation Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic having won at Southampton.