Jack Wilshere has been surprised by his rapid improvement since returning from a 16-month injury-lay-off.

The Arsenal midfielder feared for his career during a long battle to overcome ankle and knee injuries, but a promising run of performances was enough to earn him an immediate England recall.

And Wilshere, who has started three senior games since making his comeback for the U21 side, doubted whether he would ever get anywhere near his previous form.

"I'm quite surprised actually," he said. "When I first played in the U21s, I was really rusty, and I think it was clear for everyone to see. Everyone was just being nice to me saying 'you played well'. Now I'm feeling better and better as every game goes on.

"There's no hiding place when you're playing at the Emirates, at Old Trafford and you're in front of everyone. You have to be at a certain standard so you don't let your team-mates and your fans down.

"Mentally it has been tough because you question yourself all the time. You go to the Emirates, you watch games and you think 'Has it got quicker? I don't remember it being this quick. Can I get back to this level that I was at before?'

"But I feel good now and hopefully, with a few more games, I can get back to my best."

Pompey caretaker boss Guy Whittingham is looking to bolster his options after freeing up room in his squad by offloading Luke Rodgers and Josh Thompson on loan.

The League One strugglers have just 18 first-team players in their squad and Whittingham is now looking at targets to replace Rodgers and Thompson.

Portsmouth are thought to have asked the Football League if they can extend their squad allowance to bring in three new signings, with Jolley among their list of targets.

Jolley, who is out of contract in the summer, has found his first-team oportunities at AFC Wimbledon restricted this season.

The 24-year-old could be interested in a loan move to Fratton Park as he seeks to be playing on a more regular basis.

Buchanan, who was named League One Player of the Year at the North West Football Awards on Monday night for his form with Tranmere last season, came on for the final 10 minutes against Boro having spent the best part of a month on the sidelines due to a knee problem.

North End boss Graham Westley was returning to his old stomping ground and Buchanan felt the significant ex-Stevenage contingent among the Lilywhites' squad added an extra edge to the game.

"I came on on Saturday, it was great to be part of a 4-1 win and now I'm hoping to hit the ground running," said the 26-year-old.

"It was certainly the best away performance by any stretch of the imagination. The lads were fanstastic from the whistle.

"Obviously it was a big game for the football club in terms of the manager going back to Stevenage and we've got four players at the club now who were going back to Steveange.

"So that's always got a bit of an edge to it but we prepared well all week and we went down there with belief that we could get a positive result against a side sitting second in the league. No one can take away the performance or the victory from us because on the day we were a different class to them."