Monday 26 September 2016

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants England to take Jack Wilshere to Euro 2016

Published 01/04/2016 | 10:26

Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere

Arsene Wenger would love Jack Wilshere to go to Euro 2016 with England as the Arsenal midfielder builds towards his long-awaited comeback.

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The 24-year-old is closing in on a return for the Gunners having not played a competitive game this season, after suffering a broken fibula on the eve of the campaign.

England manager Roy Hodgson is a big fan of Wilshere, who also has a history of ankle injuries, and has hinted he would happily take the 28-cap international to the finals in France - regardless of whether he makes an Arsenal return before the end of the season.

It looks increasingly likely Wilshere will play some part for his club before Hodgson announces his squad on May 12, with Wenger revealing he is now back in full training.

And that promises to open the door fully for Wilshere to be involved with his country, which is something Wenger would not attempt to block.

The Frenchman was unequivocal when answering whether he felt Wilshere would make the squad and if he would welcome his call-up.

"Yes. Yes to both questions. Both answers are yes," Wenger said.

"You want your players to compete. When you're a footballer you want to compete at the top level and what is important is that Jack, who is frustrated enough, regains confidence.

"It's very important for his confidence that he can go to the Euros and he can play. It's also important to have a player of his quality available."

Speaking in March, Hodgson said he was unworried by Wilshere's lack of action - his last competitive game for Arsenal came in May's FA Cup final win over Aston Villa.

''I don't know why we should be quite as protective as all that," Hodgson said on March 3 at a UEFA summit in Paris, when asked if he was concerned Wilshere has not played this season.

"Players are either fit to play or not. Whether they play 30 games, 40 games, 10 games, 15 games, 8 games, I don't understand that.

''For me it's all about the class of the player. It's about who is in form and out of form. Even to some extent I have to rely on others' judgement on that.

''Form is transient, but class isn't. We need classy players and players we can trust and players we know what they will give us and players who have the desire, motivation and wish to play for England, to do all that's necessary."

And Wenger, though admitting he will look to ease Wilshere back into action, reckons including him in the England squad would be an option worth taking for Hodgson.

Asked if taking Wilshere would be a gamble, Wenger said: "If he's completely fit, no.

"When you're a national team coach, you can take a gamble on one player but certainly not on five. He has to consider the whole situation. You can certainly take a chance on just one player.

"I'm cautious with him now but to be back fully competitive, it will take a few weeks.

"Once he will be completely fit and competitive he will be available for Arsenal and for the national team. Why not?"

One certainty is that Wilshere will not be involved in Saturday's visit of Watford - with Arsenal sitting third in the Barclays Premier League ahead of the weekend's action.

The Gunners were top of the table at the turn of the year but have since slipped to 11 points behind leaders Leicester, albeit with a game in hand.

If they win all of their remaining games, they can achieve a points total of 79 - which has not been enough to secure the title since Manchester United's 1998/99 triumph.

Wenger feels it could be the magic number for Arsenal this time around but concedes it all depends on how Leicester deal with the unfamiliar pressure of leading a title race in the closing weeks.

"It could be," Wenger said, as he considered whether 79 points and eight wins from eight could be sufficient to deliver the title.

"It depends on the results of Leicester City. We are depending on Leicester City and nobody knows how they will go in the last seven games.

"They have seven games, we have eight. What is important is that we play our eight games with complete commitment and passion, and see where we finish."

Wenger has criticised Aston Villa for sacking manager and his fellow Frenchman Remi Garde this week.

The former Arsenal player won just two of his 20 Premier League games at the helm of the division's bottom club.

"It's disappointing," Wenger said. "When he was appointed it was more a long-term appointment at the time. Villa were in a very weak position to remain in the Premier League and I think he considered that they could go down.

"Unfortunately he wasn't given the time to rebuild the team and have a go at coming up again next season. Villa have been unstable with their managers over the recent years.

"They've used many, many managers and it's a good demonstration that is not a good solution to being successful."

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