LONDON: Jack Wilshere will play no part in England`s friendly against the Netherlands on Friday because of a knee injury but could be fit to face Italy next week, manager Gareth Southgate said.
The 26-year-old Arsenal midfielder earned his last cap in England`s defeat by Iceland at Euro 2016 but has impressed for his club this season after a spell on loan at Bournemouth. Wilshere has not travelled to Amsterdam.
"It is not a specific injury and over time they flare up and they need to settle down over a couple of days," Southgate told reporters on Thursday. "We are hopeful it will settle down pretty quickly. It`s an ongoing problem and it`s not something new for him. He`s very disappointed not to be involved in the game.
"He`s trained well but if you think about the journey he`s had in the last two years and his big injuries then he`s progressing really well." Wilshere, who has 34 caps, has been plagued by ankle injuries during his career.
England`s midfield is only one option that will be concerning Southgate in the build-up to the World Cup. His preferred goalkeeper Joe Hart has been struggling for form and first-team football and Southgate could have a look at Stoke City`s Jack Butland, Everton`s Jordan Pickford or Burnley`s Nick Pope against the Dutch. Hart admits he faces competition.
"Since Gareth has been in charge he`s always said I`ve performed really well for him. He seems like a loyal guy but the shirt is up for grabs," he said. Southgate was inevitably asked about the security fears for England`s travelling fans in Russia this summer in the light of the diplomatic tension between the two countries.
"If I were a fan, I would (go to Russia)," he said. "I have spent some time in Russia and felt incredibly comfortable there. "But, for every individual, it is up to them what they want to do".
Government ministers and members of the Royal Family will not attend the tournament which starts on June 14.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of being involved in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent in Salisbury this month. Russia denies being involved.
Southgate is expecting the focus to be on football, not politics, once the tournament starts. "I was in Russia last year for the Confederations Cup and there were about 15,000 fans from Chile," he said.
"There was an incredible atmosphere in the stadiums. It felt like the other World Cups I`d been to."