Time for Jack to step up

(Getty)

(Getty)

Jack Wilshere, the player famously described by Arsène Wenger as having a “Spanish technique with an English heart”, will be captain and talisman for both club and country for a generation.

Substituted after 67 minutes in Kiev on Tuesday night following his worst showing in an England shirt, Wilshere returned to the home comforts of Arsenal’s London Colney training base yesterday to meet Mesut Özil, the man who will supersede him, temporarily at least, as the club’s biggest star.

Wilshere’s development, of course, should only benefit from the arrival of Özil and every indication is that he is genuinely thrilled by the arrival of Arsenal’s record signing.

There is, however, now rather less certainty about Wilshere’s place in the Arsenal team than commonly presumed.

With Özil certain to start as the most advanced player in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield, Wilshere is left vying for the two deeper-lying positions.

To be hypercritical – and Wilshere clearly has a myriad of great qualities – there is a theory that he sometimes dwells on the ball for just too long and, in consequence, can slow down the pace of the game.

It was certainly noticeable during the goalless draw against Ukraine on Tuesday that he struggled against the high-tempo pressing game of Taras Stepanenko and Edmar Halovskiy.

He spent much of the match on the floor after being jostled off the ball but it was at least encouraging to hear him embrace the learning experience.

“It was my biggest international game, my first big one away so it was a hostile atmosphere,” Wilshere said.

“It was good for me. I had a lot of experience around me and they helped me. You can’t just give that to anyone. It comes over time.”

His lack of experience was not the only mitigating factor.
Both Hodgson and Wenger agree that Wilshere is still not fully match fit following his latest ankle injury and he has only completed the full 90 minutes four times since the end of February.

If Wilshere wants to look anywhere for inspiration, it is across Arsenal’s central midfield to Ramsey. He suffered his leg-breaking tackle in 2010 – 18 months before Wilshere’s first stress fracture – and is only now ­realising his full potential.

Wilshere’s situation is compounded by the fact that he actually endured much longer on the sidelines – a total of 17 months – than Ramsey did with his injury. He is also still only 21.

There is plenty of time to realise his potential and prove that comparisons with Paul Gascoigne, Xavi and Andres Iniesta were not hollow hyperbole.

He was, after all, good enough at the age of just 19 to be the man of the match in a 2-1 win against Barcelona in 2011. He was also England’s best player when they beat Brazil in February.

The bottom line is that Wilshere needs patience. Even so, the assumption that he will automatically realise his supposed destiny as an all-time Arsenal and England great should no longer be taken for granted.

Read the complete article by Jeremy Wilson here.

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