Ian Wright has called on Jack Wilshere to look closely at the friends he is keeping after the Arsenal star was once again caught up in controversy.
Wilshere was photographed talking to policemen outside London's Cafe de Paris in the early hours of Sunday morning last weekend. The images were inevitably leaked to the press. While there is no suggestion that Wilshere is under investigation for wrongdoing, the very fact that he was out at 3am has been enough for fans and pundits to question his commitment.
Indeed, the 24-year-old was not in breach of club rules and there is no evidence to suggest that Wilshere himself had been under the influence of alcohol, but his timing could not have been worse. Having spent the entire season out injured with a broken leg, Wilshere only returned to full training last Friday ahead of a first-team comeback.
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Wright, who himself had a very successful career with the Gunners, has suggested that it is those closest to Wilshere that may be leading him astray and that he should think carefully about what he values most.
While Wright says that there is much to be admired about the midfielder's personality, he believes that by cutting the bad eggs loose will help him to rejuvenate a stalling career.
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Time for a big decision
Writing in his column for The Sun, here's what Wright said:
"Jack Wilshere's ability with a football at his feet has never been in question. What he requires right now is to show he can match that with his head.
"And by that I mean the Arsenal midfielder has some big, big decisions to make — starting with his mates. We all need good pals. Friends who are there through thick and thin, pick you up when you’re down, that sort of thing.
"But I’m afraid Jack has got to look very, very closely at who he surrounds himself with after making headlines of the wrong sort this week. And that’s why I think he has to question some — not all — of those around him.
"Real mates are the ones who genuinely have your interests at heart. Ones who can see the pitfalls and who look out for you, not just enjoy the reflected glory. Someone who could — and indeed should — be putting an arm around his shoulder and saying, 'Come on Jack, it’s 11pm, maybe it’s best to head off now'.
"The true friends are the ones who tell you when it’s time to go home because they can see what could potentially happen. They’re the ones who will even say to you 'Maybe it’s best not to go out at all while you’re still on the way back to fitness'."
The frustration surrounding Wilshere's latest indiscretion is almost tangible. Arsene Wenger will have no doubt felt embarrassed after he had publically backed his player to make England's Euro 2016 squad only days prior to the incident.
As a result, reports have suggested that Arsenal have put contract talks with the player on hold. Wilshere's current deal expires in 2018 and preliminary talks had been underway. However, following this incident, further talks have been postponed.
Another serious injury would put his long-term future in major doubt while another appearance at a swanky nightclub could see Wenger give up on him altogether.