Fabio Capello admits he made a mistake in leaving Theo Walcott out of the England squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Arsenal forward Walcott was a mainstay of the qualification campaign under Italian Capello, but was surprisingly dropped from final 23-man contingent.
England were dumped out in the first knock-out round after struggling to escape their group in South Africa.
Now, former Roma and Juventus coach Capello has conceded that Walcott should have been included.
“He is playing how I remember when he started to play with us. It was a tough decision leaving Theo out for the World Cup,” Capello said.
“He is one of the players after the World Cup I thought about a lot. I made a mistake not selecting him.”
“He is one of the players who can make the difference. I should have taken him.”
Capello also bemoaned his lack of options for the pivotal role of a holding midfielder ahead of the World Cup.
But he appears to have now settled on a long-term solution in the form of Arsenal youngster Jack Wilshere.
“(Owen) Hargreaves played this position very, very well every game,” Capello said.
“But after the knee problem, he was never back.”
“I put different players in there but they’d never played in this position. (Gareth) Barry with Aston Villa never played this position. But I saw Wilshere play every game in this position.”
Capello compared Wilshere to former France international midfielder Claude Makelele, who underpinned the Chelsea side that won two English Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho in 2005 and 2006.
“Wilshere is better technically than Makelele. He’s slower than Makelele but when he receives the ball he is more dangerous than Makelele.”
“Wilshere is the best young player. He now plays all the time with Arsenal. If you play with Arsenal, you are a really good player because Arsene Wenger likes good players.”
“I think he’s mature enough to play this role. He’s a really interesting player.”