West Ham midfielder Jack Wilshere has been overlooked by England manager Gareth Southgate for his latest squad – but did he deserve to miss out?
Wilshere, who joined the Hammers on a free from Arsenal in the summer, has not made an appearance for the Three Lions since their Euro 2016 defeat against Iceland. Despite that, the 26-year-old has racked up 34 caps for his country and does still have time on his side to force his way into Southgate’s plans. But is the door still open?
What Southgate had to say
Although the England manager is yet to select Wilshere for one of his national team squads, he has confirmed that the door is still open for the midfielder, as he said:
“I haven’t spoken to Jack, but we watch all the games and we watch all of the players and we’ll select on their performances. But the door is definitely not closed to anybody, because with just 65 English players playing in the Premier League, why would we rule out the potential of anybody?
“At the moment it is worth me looking at and investing in some of the younger players available, but the key for Jack is to play well. I’ve watched two of his games for West Ham and it’s the same for Jack as it is for every other player. They have got to be playing well because the competition is high.”
Who got the nod instead of Wilshere?
Wilshere has been in recent years and still is by many people, regarded as the most talented central midfielder in the country. The West Ham man has a different style of play to squad favourites Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier – and could provide a balance to the midfield that is currently missing from the national side.
While Wilshere was never going to jump ahead of Henderson and Dier in the queue, it is certainly up for debate as to whether the likes of Fabian Delph and Adam Lallana deserved a spot ahead of him.
Delph is regarded as more of a utility man within the squad, after his exploits at left-back for Manchester City last season. However, Delph’s natural position is in midfield and each of his appearances at the 2018 World Cup came from midfield. But even if he is selected for his adaptability, with Danny Rose and Luke Shaw included in the 23 for the upcoming games, is the City man really needed? Delph is yet to play a single minute this season and, given that Southgate said that Wilshere needs to play well to gain a recall – what more has his fellow countryman done to earn his place?
Lallana, on the other hand, could still be a valuable player for England if he can recapture his form prior to his cruel injury woes. But, again, he has only played three minutes of Premier League football for Jurgen Klopp’s side and is a long way from being fit enough to have a big enough contribution. That point was proven after the Reds’ attacking midfielder withdrew from the Three Lions’ squad after suffering from a groin injury.
Following Lallana’s withdrawal from the side, Wilshere would surely be given a chance, no? Well, he is obviously a lot further down the pecking order than first thought, as Fulham ‘keeper Marcus Bettinelli was drafted into the squad for the first time instead. Is there really any need for four goalkeepers, for two matches against Spain and Switzerland? On top of that, Raheem Sterling has also been forced to withdraw from the squad through injury, but the England boss has opted to not call upon a replacement.
So, was Wilshere’s exclusion right?
While Wilshere has not completely stood out in his opening four games at West Ham, he has so far proved his fitness and has shown glimpses of how good he can be. Maybe this is an issue of the midfielder falling victim to how poor the Hammers have been so far this season or, perhaps, there could be an underlying issue for his omission. Could it be an attitude problem? Or maybe Southgate just wants him to work for his place?
There are instances though, where Wilshere would certainly add value to the squad. Say, for example, England are 1-0 down to Spain and are struggling to break through their opponents and create chances. The midfielder would be the perfect man to bring on, as he is excellent at picking pockets and playing intricate passes from a deeper midfield position – a quality that the current central midfielders within the team are lacking.
In this particular instance, with the squad not at full strength, Wilshere would have every right to feel aggrieved at not being given a chance to prove himself. But, as Southgate has confirmed that the door is not closed to the West Ham midfielder, he just needs to get his head down, work hard, and prove that he is good enough to represent the Three Lions once again.