It has perhaps been the biggest disappointment of the 2011/12 campaign that Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere is yet to make an appearance this term after such a fulfilling first complete season for the Gunners. Not only did the 20-year-old forge a reputation at club level as an energetic midfielder with plenty of dynamism but also at senior international level whereby ex-boss Fabio Capello favoured the youngster alongside Scott Parker as the Three Lions central pairing going forward.
Wilshere has had to be content with a role in the stands or conveying his loyal support (and upsetting a few people in the process) via his Twitter feed this time round, and it remains to be seen whether the midfielder will get enough game time to truly be in contention for a berth in England’s Euro 2012 final squad. Arsene Wenger remains adamant that he can’t set an exact date for Jack’s return and that his fitness will be looked after with the utmost care and attention, but is reported that four to five weeks is a realistic in terms of his recovery.
What we do know is that whoever the England boss may be, he is plausibly inclined to spring a few surprises and whilst some fans may contend he hasn’t played enough to merit a place in the 23-man-squad, previous regimes have called up Theo Walcott despite senior involvement and overlooked Darren Bent despite a glut of league goals. A place for Jack Wilshere would be far less of a gamble than these two examples.
What Jack Wilshere gives a team is energy, fight and dynamism. It is well documented that his assisting abilities are second to none with an effective eye for a pass, and despite Alex Song and Theo Walcott providing greatly to Robin Van Persie this term, the Gunners may have forged even more chances, had it been for the intricate passing, Wilshere has been so famed for.
The midfielder is far different to established counterparts Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in that his 5ft7 frame means he can jink and change direction more freely and linkages in playing style to Xavi and Andres Iniesta are not as inferior as first billed. In Arsenal’s 2-1 victory against Barcelona in the 2010/11 season, Arsene Wenger praised Wilshere’s performance as ‘outstanding’ and this was later backed up by stats that the midfielder completed a high 93.5% of his passes overall with 91% in the final third. Against Barcelona; considered the greatest domestic team to play the game, this achievement was ground-breaking considering the slender years of the precocious Wilshere.
Barcelona have proved that being little in size can yield a big impact and Wilshere’s low centre of gravity means his balance and agility are in tune to succeed as one of the new breed of modern-day central midfielders. What’s more is that Wilshere possesses a spiky edge to his game and has been prone to the rash tackle and ill-discipline at times.
This has been in a similar light to the early development and learning curve for Wayne Rooney who has seemingly eradicated these elements from his game, whilst still channelling the burning inner desire to win, and Wilshere’s similar make up means convincing the notorious England following that he truly cares will be a much easier task than for some.
Many have likened Wilshere’s breakthrough to that of Paul Gascoigne and his debut season most definitely shined out as one as the most poignant and significant from an English performer since Wayne Rooney’s baptism. Since Wilshere’s injury in the inaugural Emirates Cup, England have opted for one of either Gareth Barry, James Milner, Phil Jones and Frank Lampard to play alongside Parker with none of these names truly making an outstanding claim to be the first choice in Poland and the Ukraine this summer.
Steven Gerrard continues to be played off the front or from the flanks in the Three Lions set up meaning if Wilshere can get some game time, fond memories of his 2010/11 campaign may be enough to boost him into the central midfield reckoning once more. Additionally, Stuart Pearce knows Wilshere more personally during his time in the Under-21 set up so if we accept this angle, this factor might play into the 20-year-olds hands also.
If Wilshere’s injury extends deep into the summer, of course there would be no point taking such a gamble on his fitness, but we are expected to get a few glimpses of the clinical passing, comfort in possession and devastating vision in which he possesses and has showcased over the longevity of a full campaign. In this respect, Wilshere’s inclusion wouldn’t be as much of a gamble as the potential inclusion of team mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for example, who would be a more of an impact choice.
Knowing the nature of the English media, there is likely to be widespread drama surrounding a call up of Wilshere if he doesn’t make the tail end of the current campaign, but if he regains his fitness before the plane leaves for the continent, there is no hungrier and talented a youngster to utilise within the 23-man-squad. Wilshere will merit his place.
Does Wilshere deserve his place in the 23-man-squad? How worried are you over his fitness? Follow me @ http://twitter.com/Taylor_Will1989