By Stuart Stratford
“I don’t know how you get in an England squad without getting in the Arsenal team.
“There is no question about his ability, his football brain or personality, we just need to see him playing before he comes back in because unfortunately there has been a history of injuries.”
Thus responded Gareth Southgate at his press conference announcing the England squad that faces Germany and Brazil during this international period.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger earlier questioned how a “super-fit” Jack Wilshere could be omitted from the international scene. Both managers raise good questions which must drive the midfielder to distraction.
Wilshere has played close to 500 minutes since returning to the first team against 1FC Köln in the Europa League. Therein is the problem; cup competitions – he has two full 90 minutes in the Carabao Cup – don’t reach the standards Southgate requires for his squad.
As if Southgate has a deep pool of talent upon which to draw.
Wilshere’s problem is forcing his way into the Arsenal starting line-up. The Gunners are at their most effective with a deep-lying playmaker. Both this season and last underline how much the Gunners miss that creative spark in their midfield.
Santi Cazorla’s horrific injuries – which put Wilshere’s in the shadow – is sorely missed. He and his English team-mate have the scurrying style which drives the play forward, rather than leaving it trapped in the sideways passing that engulfs Arsenal when faced with banks of defenders.
The issue for Wenger is that inserting Wilshere alongside Xhaka shifts Aaron Ramsey out of focus. Arsenal’s manager makes no secret of his admiration for the Wales international and is determined to shoehorn him into the side, on more than occasion to his detriment.
However, without a change in formation or playing one out of position, Ramsey and Wilshere do not fit into the current XI. The question is which one suffers by being dropped.
For Jack Wilshere, can he afford to wait to find out the answer?