England manager Roy Hodgson names his final 23-man squad for this summer’s European Championships on Tuesday night, and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere could be one of the players axed after languid displays in recent international friendlies. On the ball, the 24-year-old is one of the best players in the England team, but his lack of athleticism – due to a lack of match fitness – is a big problem.
Against Australia, Wilshere was withdrawn at half-time, struggling to curtail the threat of the opposition, who passed the ball around the England midfield at free will. Roy Hodgson’s ongoing experiment to play the Arsenal man in a makeshift deep-lying role didn’t work, and now he has a serious decision to make on which two players (Fabian Delph already axed due to injury) will be cut.
The England manager named 26 players in his squad (23 in the main squad, 3 on stand-by), but the fitness woes of Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Fabian Delph (Manchester City) and Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) always posed a potential risk for Hodgson. And so it has already proven with Delph out through injury, while Sturridge missed two friendlies while sidelined.
Jack Wilshere is a very valuable player when utilised in his best central attacking midfield role. His passing ability is the best in the England side, but his physical condition doesn’t seem at the level for a major international tournament this summer. Wilshere would be required to play games every few days, and given he’s gone the entire league season out with injury it’s a lot to ask.
Hodgson was subject to a lot of criticism for his inclusion of Wilshere in the squad initially, and given how his performances have highlighted just how much he’s lacking in the fitness department, many are questioning what was expected. Wilshere operates in a physically demanding role in the midfield, but it was clear against Australia that he isn’t ready for England.
The Three Lions boss has to think of the ramifications of thrusting Wilshere back into gruelling competition too soon. If not for the European Championships, the Arsenal man would likely be told to rest ahead of a tough pre-season to come. His inclusion could well set him back for Arsenal in 2016/17, so is it really worth risking injury for a player who has spent more time on crutches than in football boots of late? Should Jack Wilshere be left out of the England side?