Roy Hodgson cheered by newly dependable Jack Wilshere

AFP| Last Updated: Nov 20, 2014, 09:44 AM IST
Roy Hodgson cheered by newly dependable Jack Wilshere

England manager Roy Hodgson believes that he is finally seeing the best of Jack Wilshere following the talented Arsenal midfielder`s well-documented struggles with injury.

Wilshere broke into the Arsenal first team as a teenager during the 2010-11 season, but an unfortunate sequence of ankle problems meant he had made only six appearances for England by the end of 2012.

The 22-year-old has since won a further 20 caps and has impressed in a new deep-lying midfield role in recent games, notably creating the opening goal in England`s 3-1 friendly win over Scotland on Tuesday with a fine, raking pass for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

"Basically, he`s very young," Hodgson told reporters following England`s victory in Glasgow.

"He burst on to the scene even younger, of course. A very bright future was predicted for him, but then he got injured.

"My first year and a half with the team, we were always thinking, `What a pity we haven`t got Jack Wilshere,` or, `Wouldn`t it be nice if Jack was fit?`

"And it`s really only been since the lead-up to the World Cup and afterwards that I`ve had this period with him where I can always count on him being there. Right from the start, we saw what he could do.

"Players who can do what he does with the ball -- take the responsibility of receiving balls from the back, even under pressure; ability to turn with the ball; ability to see a pass -- all he needs to add to his game to be totally outstanding is goals."

England`s victory over Scotland saw them complete a run of six successive wins for the first time since 2006.

Their only two defeats of the year came during the World Cup, when 2-1 losses to Italy and Uruguay saw them eliminated at the group phase.Hodgson has blooded several young players since the tournament, including Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne, who impressed against Scotland, and he feels that a new core of players is beginning to harden.

"Some players who were with us in the World Cup retired or are no longer selected, and there are a lot of younger players who`ve come in who were really on the fringes of the World Cup team, and actually ended up playing in the final game against Costa Rica," he said.

"They`re the guys now who`ve really been asked to step up to the plate and that`s exactly what I think they`ve done, and we`ve even found a few more along the way.

"I`m thinking of Fabian Delph, who unfortunately got injured, but he came into the squad and looked very comfortable there. I`m thinking of Nathaniel Clyne, who`s come into the squad and looked very, very comfortable.

"And on top of that, we`ve got the (Danny) Welbecks and the (Raheem) Sterlings and the Oxes (Oxlade-Chamberlain), and all these guys that you know, who have played bit-parts up to now.

"But we think in our work going forward, they`ve got to play more than bit-parts -- they`ve got to show they`re bona fide, good quality, international England players, just like you`re mentioning Wayne Rooney."

Hodgson also said he would be happy for England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate to select players from the senior squad for next June`s Under-21 European Championship in the Czech Republic, despite it clashing with two England fixtures.

"After Gareth Southgate has picked his squad, I will pick my squad for Slovenia. I`ll take whoever`s left," he said.

"If Gareth thinks the best way to win the tournament is to jettison a lot of the players he`s been working with and take players from our team, that`s fine by me."