The Jack Wilshere Predicament

A second, successive excellent pre-season display by Arsenal’s 18 year old prodigy Jack Wilshere has prompted Arsene Wenger to suggest that he is ready for an international call-up. This leads me to ask whether:

  1. Wilshere is ready for an England call-up?
  2. Wilshere would benefit more from another loan move, or continued tutelage under Wenger’s wing?

Wilshere has really come to the fore during this close season. Having been selected to start all games thus far, a series of eye-catching performances has culminated in virtuoso displays against both Celtic and AC Milan in the Emirates Cup.

The media spotlight, fueled by disillusionment at England’s World Cup shortcomings, is focusing even more intently on Wilshere, especially with Wenger’s somewhat hyperbolic comments regarding the boy’s international pedigree.

This is, of course, not the first time Wilshere’s name has been mentioned in tandem with the England senior team. His mature displays during last year’s pre-season led to Fabio Capello briefly flirting with the idea of taking him to the 2010 World Cup. Undoubtedly, given the display in South Africa, it was lucky for Wilshere that he wasn’t drafted straight into the squad.

Anyone care to name another precocious talent (now mixing with Wilshere at Arsenal), a relative unknown at club level, thrust onto the international scene way too early in his development?

However, things seem to have drastically changed for Capello over the Summer. It seems as if the national team is in dire need of at least a bit of a re-jig, at most, an entire revamp. Wilshere certainly fits the mold of the diminutive winger that Capello utilized in South Africa, that is, Shaun Wright Phillips and Aaron Lennon, yet is much more comparable in terms of technical assets, positional inclination and creative spark to Adam Johnson.

Indeed, given his performances in the latter half of last season, Johnson is arguably the English player most deserving of a starting place in the forthcoming friendly against Hungary. Whether or not Wilshere is ready for an international call-up seems immaterial when viewed in the light of Johnson’s claim for a starting place. It would do no harm at all to Wilshere’s development to let him further find his feet in the U-21 set up.

So then, what to do with the boy this year?  Undeniably Wilshere benefited from the weekly first-team football granted to him at the Reebok Stadium last term, yet Wenger has already stated that he would prefer to keep him at Highbury and gradually integrate him into the Arsenal side.

Given the abundance of deep-lying attacking players Wenger employs as the 3 in his 4-2-3-1 formation (Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, Walcott) it looks as if Wilshere, unless he really is rated by Wenger, will be limited to the odd Carling Cup cameo. Surely Wilshere would profit more from a season where he is the focal figure in a lesser team.

What do the Gunners out there think?

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