Football

England desperate for Wilshere's touch of class

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Wilshere has missed much of this season (©GettyImages)
Wilshere has missed much of this season (©GettyImages).

With just four months to go until the European Championships, it would appear England have very little in the way of definite plans.

 

Leading up to the 3-2 friendly defeat against the Netherlands on Wednesday much of the debate was focused on who would captain the side for the game at Wembley, not to mention who would actually be in charge of the team come June.

 

Football Association director of development Trevor Brooking gives off the air of a man in no rush to appoint Fabio Capello’s successor or remedy some of the problems England are currently beset with.

 

“We're not in a rush. I think we'll take our time, and try to make sure we're not locked into any particular time scale," the West Ham icon said after insisting that the new manager could be ‘parachuted’ in just days before the start of the tournament.

 

But while matters of managers and captaincy fill the newspaper column inches as regularly as a Harry Redknapp denial that he has been approached about the England job, it mustn’t be ignored that on the pitch England were found wanting on Wednesday.

 

Wayne Rooney’s absence left England embarrassingly short of attacking options – Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck impressed, but the pair are untested and unlikely to strike fear in to opponents in Poland and Ukraine - and their defensive naivety cost them both the opening and final Dutch goals.

 

If there is one area of promise from which England can muster any semblance of a Euro 2012 challenge however it is their midfield, where they are blessed with plenty of talent, although unfortunately for them some of their brightest stars have been blighted by setbacks this season.

 

Scott Parker aside, it is perhaps an indictment on the lack of initiative seized by existing members of the England squad that two players who have spent much of the season injured and one who at the age of 37 recently came out of retirement are currently being pushed forward for a spot in England’s 30-man squad for the European Championships.

 

Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley and Paul Scholes have all been touted as possible inclusion in whoever becomes the next manager of England’s squad, with all three of them able to offer balance in a midfield quarter not short on quality but perhaps lacking a cutting edge.

 

Parker has established himself as a fine water carrier and has seen his career take off since securing a summer move to Tottenham, while the man alongside him in the Netherlands game, Gareth Barry, is of a similar ilk.

 

With Rooney suspended for the first two games and Darren Bent seemingly out of action through injury, England do not have the quality on the field to go two strikers in the Euro’s, meaning Steven Gerrard is likely to deployed further forward as support for a lone striker.

 

That leaves a hole in a midfield two alongside Parker, but who is the man to fill it?

 

Frank Lampard has demonstrated his enduring quality this season having become the first player to score ten or more goals for nine consecutive seasons, but the Chelsea man has seen his stock fall at both club and international level.

 

Left out by Fabio Capello for key Euro 2012 qualifiers, Lampard may make the squad but his spot in the first team is by no means assured, while with Gerrard occupying a more forward role his lack of understanding with the Liverpool midfielder means he is looking increasingly unlike the man for the job.

 

There is no doubt Scholes has demonstrated the quality that has made him one of the most revered players of his generation.

 

While there are lingering doubts about his ability to play successive games and handle the pace when they going gets tough, likely Three Lions boss Harry Redknapp has already sung the praises of the Manchester United man - but it has been eight years since his last international game and only a matter of months since he emerged from retirement.

 

England managers in the past have tried and failed to lure him out of international retirement and failed; there is no reason why he would answer the call this time round.

 

Scholes’ team-mate Cleverley is held in particularly high regard by Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford but the fact he has only made five Premier League appearances for United seemingly rules him out of such a crucial spot in the starting line up.

 

That then leaves Wilshere. A revelation since bursting on the scene last season, the Arsenal youngster came close to a call up for the 2010 World Cup but narrowly missed out. Under Capello he took his first steps in international football, earning the praise of the Italian on his full debut against Denmark last February.

 

Unfortunately for club and country injury problems have wrecked his season to date. Frustrating setbacks have robbed the Gunners of the man earmarked to emulate the achievements of Cesc Fabregas at the Emirates Stadium. His finesse was desperately needed against the Netherlands as England surrendered possession too easily at times and opted to play the killer ball too early.

 

His composure on the ball and ability to pick passes make him the standout foil to Parker’s obdurate shielding, while given the Three Lions another attacking dimension. All they have to do, is hope he can overcome his injury problems in time.

Topics:
Arsenal
Internationals
Football
Jack Wilshere
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