Russia 2018 is just around the corner, and today we’re starting a new segment focussing on some of the English players that we believe deserve a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be singling out a number of individuals who have impressed during the 2017/18 season, analysing their recent performances, looking at what they have to offer the Three Lions, and giving you the option to bet on who will earn a spot in England’s 23 man squad for the World Cup finals.
The first player we’ll be looking at has already earned 34 caps for England since making his debut in 2010. He is a man who possesses equal parts talent and passion, but who’s striking injury record has put huge question marks over much of his career.
We’re of course talking about Jack Wilshere, the man with the heart of a lion and the ankles of a glass giraffe. Since making his senior debut for domestic club Arsenal in 2008, Wilshere has become a source of endless contradictions. He has been Arsenal’s most promising player, yer their most unreliable player. He has been a consummate professional and a furious hot-head. Gunners fans have labelled him the future of Arsenal, and called for Arsene Wenger to cast him aside.
When Wilshere was sent on loan to Bournemouth last season, many Arsenal fans assumed that his career at the Emirates had come to an end, particularly when he failed to make a notable impact for the Cherries despite making 27 league appearances. Wilshere returned to Arsenal at the end of the 2016/17 season, once again nursing an injury, and had not featured in a competitive match since the previous April.
During the summer transfer window a number of clubs showed interest in the midfielder, and a move away from the Emirates seemed like best possible outcome for all parties. Arsene Wenger however, had other ideas, and insisted that he had plans for Wilshere in the upcoming season. The general feeling around the club was this – ‘we’ll give him one more chance, but this has to be his last’…
…’and he better not get injured again’.
Wilshere was eased back into Arsenal’s starting XI during the first half of the season, featuring in a heavily rotated squad for the group stage of their Europa League campaign. It is over the last couple of months however, that Wilshere has truly made a case to be included in England’s World Cup squad.
The 26-year-old has made 15 Premier League appearances this season, and despite scoring just one goal and providing two assists, his output on the pitch has been second to none. Wilshere has always possessed a wealth of attributes that have set him apart from many of his Arsenal teammates – determination, technical ability, vision to name a few, but a new found maturity to his game has put him back amongst England’s elite.
It’s all well and good harping on about statistics, previous incidents, and wasted potential, yet anyone that has watched Wilshere this season will know exactly what he brings to a team. Overlook his poor record with injuries and a simple truth remains – Wilshere can do things that Adam Lallana cannot, he can do things that Jordan Henderson cannot. On his day he can outperform Dele Alli, Eric Dier, and Ross Barkley, and more importantly he seems to have a genuine passion for the game.
The likes of Paul Gascoigne, Steven Gerrard, and Wayne Rooney had plenty of off days in an England shirt, yet you always felt like they gave 100%. Jack Wilshere is one of those players, and if he can remain injury free for the rest of the season, he has to be considered for the spot in Southgate’s squad.
Roy Hodgson said it best: “Wilshere has got the personality, the character and the quality to accept responsibility, to accept the pressure. I foresee a fantastic England career for him. I would agree with Arsène Wenger and say Jack has got the qualities to be England captain, there’s no doubt about that.”
Our Verdict: Plane to Russia guaranteed.
If you agree or disagree with us drop us a comment, and if you fancy a cheeky flutter on Wilshere click on the link below.