England manager Roy Hodgson feels Jack Wilshere requires more match practice to return to his all action best, but insists there is plenty of time between now and June before the Three Lions depart for Brazil.
Wilshere has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons since returning from his long term stress fracture setback, and with a number of Arsenal midfielders ahead of him in the pecking order the Englishman has struggled to feature for a full 90 minutes this term.
Hodgson understands his star midfielder’s situation and is willing to accept that he cannot feature week in, week out for the Gunners, however he needs to muster some consistent form as the season progresses ahead of the major tournament in the summer.
Arsene Wenger rates Wilshere very highly, however he has remained cautious due to his recent injury record. Although Arsenal have a myriad of central options, it is highly likely the Englishman will be integrated when possible.
The England boss is happy for him to be eased back into regular action, but he will need a number of games under his belt ahead of next years World Cup. He told the media:
One thing Jack has mentioned [to me] recently has been that he has had a lack of 90-minute match practice and he obviously feels that he needs a few more games under his belt. But there will be 28 games that he can possibly play before we go to Brazil so it’s not something that bothers me enormously in November.
That question [about playing time] could be a relevant one at the end of April or the start of May if he is still not playing games, but at the moment, I am just happy to accept that.
The 21-year-old has attracted much attention from the media which has both piled on the pressure and dished out plenty of criticism. Despite displaying some undulating form recently, Hodgson still has great faith in the Arsenal midfielder and expects him to get back to his best in due time.
The England boss added:
It’s going to take Jack some time. He admits that, as does Arsene. I thought he did some very good things in the game against Chile so I wasn’t disappointed with him.
He has had two or three weeks off with an ankle injury so it was going to be tough for him to come on and set the game alight in a game of that quality, but I wasn’t disappointed with him at all.
I was pleased we got 65 minutes out of him and I hope that will do him well for the future.
Wilshere has been utilized heavily from the wings over the past two or so months with the Gunners struggling for wide players due to injuries. Naturally it is not his most effective role, but he has demonstrated tremendous attitude to both work back and get forward. He’s even managed to break his barren run in front of goal, scoring the famous team goal against Norwich.
The England international has been under a huge amount of pressure from his country recently, heralded as the Three Lions future captain. We’ve all seen what he can do, and it will only be a matter of time until he returns to his unstoppable best. Chances will be hard to come by with the likes of Arteta, Flamini and Ramsey all ahead of him in the pecking order in the deeper/box-to-box midfield role. But it only takes an injury and he’s back in the fold.
There is much to come from Jack, have a little faith England.