12 Jan Eddie Howe backs Jack Wilshere to return to England fold
Eddie Howe has backed Jack Wilshere to force his way into England’s World Cup squad.
Wilshere has shaken off an ankle injury and should feature in Arsenal’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth on Sunday.
The 26-year-old played 27 Premier League games on loan at Bournemouth last term, and Cherries boss Howe hailed the playmaking midfielder’s impact on the south coast.
Howe believes Wilshere now has every chance of making England’s World Cup ranks in Russia this summer, provided he stays clear of injury.
“Absolutely, I don’t see why Jack Wilshere cannot make that squad,” said Howe, of Wilshere’s World Cup chances.
“I’m sure it’s a target for Jack, and the way he’s played I don’t see any reason why he won’t be a huge player in (England manager) Gareth Southgate’s mind.
“I’m sure Jack will get a warm reception here. He was very popular in our dressing room and he did very well for us.”
He added: “When Jack arrived, straight away in training the standard just went higher. There was that moment where the lads got to understand that Jack was here with us, it was a major signing.
“A lot of our players grew up watching and admiring him so to be playing with him was massive for them. He had a big impact behind the scenes and on the pitch as well. It was interesting to see how our players reacted to what he said.
“A lot of players attached to the club at the time would have wanted to show Jack they were good players in their own right as well. And Jack would have wanted to show our players how good he is.”
Howe added: “And I think that’s a beneficial reaction between the two, and he definitely had an immediate impact at this club.
Hopefully our players took something away that won’t just affect them for there and then, but also for the future.”
Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry recently dropped in at Bournemouth to speak to the Cherries squad.
Howe admitted his players benefited from quizzing the ex-France forward on what it takes to reach the game’s pinnacle.
“We got Thierry in to talk to the players, as we do with various players and people from time to time, not just footballers,” said Howe.
“He spoke at length about his career, and it was beneficial.
“Definitely he addressed the mental side, his mental strength, his dedication to his sport, and about the desire to be the best.”