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Why England should start with Jack Wilshere at the World Cup

Restricted by injury to just 15 international caps, England midfielder Jack Wilshere has suffered more international frustration than most players in the past few seasons. Eager to make up for lost time this summer, the Arsenal midfielder knows that a ...

Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere

Restricted by injury to just 15 international caps, England midfielder Jack Wilshere has suffered more international frustration than most players in the past few seasons. Eager to make up for lost time this summer, the Arsenal midfielder knows that a good World Cup can help him to shake off the lingering frustrations that his career has yet to take the trajectory expected when he burst onto the scene at club level.

“Everyone knows the World Cup is the top level,” he told reporters this week. “Everyone watches every game shown on TV. Don’t get me wrong, everyone is going to have their opinions of what you can improve on and what you’ve got to work on but I think a good World Cup can erase a lot of doubts.”

One man without doubts in Wilshere’s ability is his international coach. Roy Hodgson has repeatedly stood by his injury-hit midfield man and has handed him the number seven shirt in <England’s World Cup squad. It’s easy to read into squad numbers too much, with much of it a marketing exercise. After all, Frank Lampard was always going to get the number eight shirt but is unlikely to start.

However, that said, the choice of Wilshere for number seven could give some insight into his thinking in the competition between Wilshere and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson for the central midfield role alongside captain Steven Gerrard.

On the face of it, the decision to start Wilshere over Henderson seems to be an example of the age-old England problem of picking players on reputation rather than form, given the season that Henderson has just had at club level.

A near ever-present for Liverpool, Henderson heads into the World Cup on the back of the season of his life, while the fact that his end of season absence came in tandem with a lack of cover and Liverpool’s title challenge collapsing saw his stock rise even further.

Wilshere, on the other hand, last played four full games in a row in the period straddling the new year and has not started more than five league games on the spin all season; particularly galling for Wilshere in light of his excellent form the previous season.

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Published with permission from Squawka News.

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