This morning The Mirror (via The Times) reported that Jack Wilshere is considering quitting Arsenal in January in the hope he could force his way in to Gareth Southgate’s World Cup plans.
Wilshere’s injury problems over the last few years have seriously hindered his development and prevented him from reaching the heights expected of him when he first broke in to the Arsenal first team.
But will a permanent move away from Arsenal really open up doors for Wilshere, or is it too late for him to earn an international call up ahead of next summer’s World Cup?
Here are the thoughts of Football FanCast’s writers…
The fact that Jack Wilshere is even being considered for the World Cup at this stage says more about England than it does about the 25-year-old.
Wilshere is never going to become the player that many thought he would, but with England desperately short of quality in midfield, there is a case for him to travel to the World Cup.
If Wilshere leaves Arsenal in January and has an injury-free second half to the season, he should make the trip to Russia. There is no doubt about that for me.
With England lacking any sort of creative spark or quality in central midfield from the likes of Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson and Jake Livermore right now, if – and with Wilshere it is always a very big if – the 25-year-old moves on during the January transfer window and proves his fitness and quality during the second half of the season, then he has to be in the squad for Russia.
He offers something that no other Three Lions midfielder – aside from perhaps Adam Lallana – does, but he must stay injury free otherwise it is a risk that Gareth Southgate won’t be willing to take.
Southgate will already have an idea of who he wants to take to Russia, and even if Wilshere does seal a move away from Arsenal in January he would need to be playing regularly and be an influential figure on the pitch to be considered for the England squad. Given his lengthy injury record, I just can’t see that happening.
Plus, I have always been baffled by suggestions that the midfielder can still become an England great. That ship has sailed.
Jack Wilshere has a perception problem. Fans, pundits and media see him as a has-been at the age of just 25 and whether that’s unfair or not it will impact on his World Cup selection. I can’t see him having a good enough season at Arsenal or elsewhere from January to change that.
Long-term he can rebound, short-term he doesn’t stand a chance of that, especially on the international scene.
Jack Wilshere will never become the world-class midfielder heralded of him during his younger years.
That being said he still possesses the creative spark to turn dominance of possession into a vibrant attacking performance, which is exactly what the Three Lions lacked throughout qualifying. The World Cup, though, is a different animal altogether. England may face one or two smaller nations who will look to keep ten men behind the ball, but Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier will be much more appropriate against high-quality opposition.
Which all begs the question of whether Wilshere can justify a place in the squad for potentially just one game. That will depend on the complexion of England’s group, but also whether Wilshere is fully match fit.
It’s hard to remember the last time England didn’t take a chance by bringing at least one unfit player to a major tournament; and it’s equally hard to remember a time when it actually worked out.
Unless Wilshere ends the season match sharp, Southgate needs to search elsewhere for more flair in deep midfield.