30 Dec Jack Wilshere making a strong case for England recall – Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger believes Jack Wilshere’s improving form is making it harder for Gareth Southgate to ignore his credentials for England.
The Arsenal midfielder, 25, has recently impressed after returning to Wenger’s starting XI, and again demonstrated his ability with the fine pass that released Alexis Sanchez to score in Thursday’s 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace.
Southgate had previously expressed concerns that despite his admiration for Wilshere, he could not consider him for selection until he is regularly playing in the central midfield role he believes suits him best.
Wilshere often featured in Arsenal’s front three in a weakened XI selected for the Europa League, but while he did so the England manager continued to overlook him.
His contract expires at the end of the season – Wenger expects to soon discuss an extension with him – and he is also short of time to earn a place in the England squad for next summer’s World Cup.
However, Wenger has seen the way Wilshere’s presence has given his team greater balance and also how he is more disciplined, and he believes such improvements will bring international recognition.
Asked if it had become hard for Southgate to ignore him, the 68-year-old Wenger said: “Of course. Jack has some great qualities, especially when we lose the ball, he’s the first one to put the opposition under pressure. He has really improved the defensive side of his game.
“His positional play is very good. You watch football and you see the way he uses the right positions. Football is first about being in the right position on the pitch, where to stand.
“That is why I would rather talk about that. Let’s give him credit for the way he has come back. He deserves a lot of credit. Overall, we have to pay him a lot of respect.
“It’s all nicey, nicey when you are super-talented when you break into the first team at 17 but to come back to that level after injuries, that shows his desire.”
Arsenal visit West Brom on Sunday, when Wenger will break the record set by long-term rival Sir Alex Ferguson by overseeing his 811th fixture as a Premier League manager.
He remains without the injured Olivier Giroud, Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey, but of the record he is about to set, the Frenchman said: “First of all, I feel lucky to have been at the club for such a long time.
“I’ve worked very hard every day of my life. Maybe people underestimated me.
“In modern society it is more demanding: there are more opinions, more questions. But I’ve always set high standards and there is nobody harsher on myself than me.”