England legend supports Jack Wilshere over smoking debacle

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England legend Gary Linker has urged people to lay off Wilshere, insisting his now infamous smoking was not the crime of the century and the midfielder has handled himself well.

The Arsenal midfielder was widely criticised for being pictured outside a night club with a cigarette after his side's 2-0 win of Napoli in the Champions League last week.

Wilshere is set to play an important role for England in their remaining two qualifying games against Montenegro and Poland at Wembley.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger condemned his player's smoking and later Wilshere admitted it was a mistake and it would be his last one.

Lineker, who scored 48 goals in 80 appearances for England, insists it has been a tough week for the midfielder but he has dealt with the publicity well.

The ex-Tottenham and Leicester forward told talkSPORT: “He’s a class player and has had a tough week in terms of publicity with the smoking thing.

“He’s handled it pretty well, saying that it was a mistake, that he shouldn’t have done it and that he’ll sort himself out.

“But let’s not get carried away with it, it’s not the crime of the century.

“It’s something most young people do at some stage before they’re sensible enough to realise it’s not going to do you any good.

“In my day a lot of footballers smoked before we really got educated about the dangers of it."

The 21-year-old scored for the Gunner's last week against West Brom, striking the equaliser in there 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns. 

Lineker, who now hosts BBC's Match of the Day, claims Wilshere has the ability to emerge as a world class player in the future.

“He’s a class player and he’s one of our young players that could emerge to be world class, my only concern about him is that he tends to be quite vulnerable in the ankle area.”

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