Roy Hodgson says Jack Wilshere is playing his way back to form and believes the Arsenal midfielder can step up for England filling the void left by retired duo Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
The Three Lions start their qualification bid for Euro 2016 with an fixture away at Switzerland on 8 September with expectations rising that a new generation of players can put the disappointment of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil behind them.
Speaking to the the FA’s official website, Hodgson outlined why he’s optimistic Wilshere can fulfil his potential on the international stage.
“He is a player who has been on the radar for a long time, and has been unlucky with injury. He broke onto the scene long before I came along, but of course, when I came along he wasn’t available because of the long-term injuries.
“We got a chance to briefly see him before he got injured again, so it’s probably only been the last six months or so, leading up to the World Cup, where he’s become a feature and someone who could fit the bill for the midfield.
“It’s been very encouraging for me to see him playing pain-free and without any fitness issues, and even more encouraging to see him playing well, as I think he was against Besiktas in the midfield.
“It leads you to hope and believe he could do the same thing in an England shirt.”
Wilshere is joined in the current England squad by teammates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers with the likes of Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs also tipped to challenge for a place when they return from injury.
It’s the first time that Chambers has received a call up to the national team; an achievement that caps off a whirlwind two months that has seen him make his Arsenal debut, earn plaudits at centre-back, pick up his first silverware and test himself in the Champions League.
Impressed by what he’s seen on his return from the World Cup, vice-captain Per Mertesacker believes Chambers has everything going for him.
“He has everything,” Mertesacker told Arsenal Player. “He can play different roles and he will be very important. He comes in and it’s easy for him to feel comfortable. He’s so composed and he will play a big role. As a person I like him very much because he’s calm, he tries to learn and he listens all the time and that is something that is really rare.
“A first proper pro season at a Champions League club and [playing] international football will be very tough mentally and physically, but he has the character to cope with it. If he wants any advice, I’m here to help.
Firmley ensconced as Arsenal’s third choice centre-back following the departure of Thomas Vermaelen, Mertesacker also stated his belief that Chambers has the strength of character to deal with the responsibility of playing both domestically and for his country.
“It’s very important to have such ambitious players and you could feel that from the start when we first met just how ambitious he is and how important he is for the squad even though he is just 19.
“In our days, good players come in very early and they will get a call-up very early so I think it’s down to the English manager and Arsène Wenger to deal with that. But his character is up for it. That’s my opinion and I don’t think it will go wrong for him.
“He will be very important for the club over the next few years. I didn’t see him much last year for Southampton and I didn’t recognise him. But how he managed to deal with the first few games under pressure and how he trains impresses a me a lot.”