It has been 21 months since Jack Wilshere last finished a Premier League game; since then, Leicester City have achieved both an incredible survival and a miraculous title, and Leeds United have had 6 managers. So why has Roy Hodgson chosen Jack Wilshere to go to the Euros this summer?
For many this might seem hypocritical, Hodgson ruled Theo Walcott out of his preliminary squad because of his lack of game time stating that Theo “has not had regular games.” This seem absurd, Theo Walcott had 45 appearences in either an England or Arsenal shirt in the 2015/2016 season, Jack Wilshere had just 3 before the recent international friendlies. Wilshere’s inclusion has left England fans clutching at straws to defend Roy’s decision.
Moreover Wilshere is going to France on form that he had nearly two years ago! No-one could argue that Wilshere was playing brilliant football when he was fit, but there is no evidence to say that this form will transpire onto the pitch against the likes of Belgium and Italy. Some may say this is the same for Raheem Sterling who had a mixed year at Manchester City; however Sterling offers something different to anyone else in the squad, he is a natural winger, something that the squad lacks after the exclusion of Townsend. His pace and skill on the ball is vital if Roy needs to deploy a late substitute to bring life back into a game. Furthermore, it is easy to see why he has been picked over Townsend, who struggled and ultimately failed to keep his Newcastle side in the Premier League this season.
Wilshere, on the other hand, has been picked instead of Danny Drinkwater. Drinkwater and Wilshere are very similar players, they both look to control the tempo of a game with their passing ability. However when one looks at recent form, it is clear that Danny Drinkwater is the superior player in this instance. This is obvious from the following graphic:
Wilshere also brings with him a number of injury problems, many England fans are scared that we will get 10 minutes into our game with Russia and Jack Wilshere will be limping off with yet another hamstring injury. At that point the sighs of England fans will be heard all over the country.
The honest truth is that England do not have another player like Wilshere in their squad. The midfielders can be split into three categories, attacking, defensive and wide players. Wilshere transcends these categories and can be both attacking and defensive at the same time.
Is Wilshere important to the hopes of England in the upcoming tournament? Probably. As an impact player, I do not think he holds much merit; but if he is given the opportunity to start games, he will be an important piece of the diamond formation, holding the midfield together to allow Rooney to successfully play the number 10 role. Hopefully partnering Dele Alli, Wilshere holds the key in allowing Alli to push further forward as he can stay deep with Eric Dier allowing for cover in case of a counter-attack.
Wilshere himself seems confident stating that “If I felt like I wasn’t ready to play I wouldn’t be here, I want to play, I want to be in the starting XI, of course.”
So why is Jack Wilshere going to the Euros? On his day, Wilshere can be a phenomenal player, dictating games with his control. Was Wilshere the best option to play in that position? Most certainly not. However now that he has been chosen he plays a vital role in any chance England have of advancing in France this summer.
Nevertheless, as England fans, we must hold the ultimate optimism that Wilshere and the rest of the team will come good and our hopes of progressing far in the tournament will not be crushed as is all too familiar.