Arsenal's Jack Wilshere wanted by Fabio Capello as new England playmaker

28 January 2011 12:15
Perfect 10: Wilshere looks ideally suitedto fill the void left by Owen Hargreaves

After little more than seven minutes of friendly international football, Jack Wilshere would appear to have provided Fabio Capello with the answer he has long been looking for. How best to fill the void that has been created by the absence of Owen Hargreaves.

Gareth Barry deserves credit for offering the England manager one solution, but it has never been a perfect fit. The holding, quarter-back role that the injury-plagued Hargreaves occupied with distinction at the 2006 World Cup is not a natural position for Manchester City midfielder Barry.

In Wilshere, however, Capello now sees a problem solved. He envisages the future as the 19-year-old Arsenal player who is already being hailed as cultured and classy enough to slot in alongside Xavi and Andres Iniesta at Barcelona without looking out of place.

Even Capello has said as much, rating him better technically than Claude Makelele, and he intends to deploy Wilshere in front of the back four when England meet Denmark in a friendly in Copenhagen next month.

Encouraged by the fact that Arsene Wenger has included Wilshere in his starting line-up on 26 occasions this season - including 17 times in the Barclays Premier League and five in the Champions League - Capello believes the teenager is ready for the challenge.

'He played just 10 minutes at Wembley when we met Hungary in August,' said Capello as he enjoyed a spot of lunch with the media this week. 'But I have monitored him for five months and he's improved a lot. He's a really interesting player and I want to try to put him in this position in front of the back four.

'I have to decide because he's so young. He stays alone in midfield, and probably that can be dangerous. So we have to decide in two days we stay together.'

Wenger thinks Wilshere has more to offer. 'He's a box-to-box player; more than just a holding midfielder,' said the Arsenal manager, even if he did then concede that his talent enables him to play in 'any position across the midfield'.

So much to offer: Arsene Wenger says Wilshere can also be a box-to-box player

But Capello's needs are different to Wenger's and the England manager is excited by the way Wilshere has grown in stature this season.

'I think he's mature enough to play this role,' he said. 'When he started, sometimes he played without big confidence. He was timid, shy. Now, every game he improves a lot, he plays with confidence, without fear and he also tackles. He tries to win. He's very important.'

If there are concerns, they centre on one or two off-the-field problems and an aggressive tackling style. In October he received his first straight red card for a challenge on Birmingham's Nikola Zigic. Not that Capello seems too worried.

'The tackle is the tackle,' he said. 'I saw what happened but sometimes you can make mistakes. I did the same sometimes as a player. The red mist. I also read that he had some problem with a taxi driver. Silly things. But not a lot of problems. He's good in the private life, although young players have to understand that they are an example to young people.'

Goodbye: Wilshere's promotion probably means Barry will no longer find a place in the starting line-up

So how good can he be? Names like Makelele and Andrea Pirlo were put to Capello and his responses were interesting.

'Wilshere is better technically than Makelele,' he said. 'He's slower than Makelele. But when he receives the ball he is more dangerous than Makelele.

'Pirlo? No, no, no, no. Not like Pirlo. Wilshere's too young now. Probably he can be better but depending on which style your team plays.

'The style of AC Milan was to play long ball sometimes. The style of Arsenal is a lot of passes. He can do this but I never saw this thing with Wilshere. He wins back the ball, he passes, he turns, dribbles, goes and shoots. I saw everything. But the style of Arsenal is touch, touch, touch, touch - like Barcelona.

'Hargreaves played this position very, very well, every game. But after the knee problem, he was never back. I put different players in there, but they never played in this position.

'I saw Wilshere play every game in this position. Barry with Aston Villa never played this position. He started to play there only with me.

'Wilshere is young and playing all the time with Arsenal. If you play with Arsenal, you are a really good player because Wenger likes the good player.'

So how will he organise his side for Denmark? Steven Gerrard in front of Wilshere, with Theo Walcott and James Milner on the flanks and Wayne Rooney up front with a strike partner that would probably be Andy Carroll were the Newcastle striker not injured? That would seem the most likely line-up and it certainly spells the end for Barry as a first-team regular.

'If Wilshere is fit he will play,' said Capello. 'With Barry, I will decide. The players will arrive really tired because they play a lot of games before this game. But it will be important for Wilshere to understand that he will be the future.'

Since England last played in November, Capello has been considering other options, too. Sunderland forward Danny Welbeck, on loan from Manchester United, would have been a contender for the squad before being sidelined by injury, and the search for cover at right back has drawn Capello's attention to Tottenham's Kyle Walker, currently on loan at Aston Villa, and Liverpool's Martin Kelly.

Howdy, partner: Gerrard (left) should join Wilshere in midfield, playing just in front of the Arsenal starlet

'Welbeck is another interesting player,' said Capello. 'He and Carroll are two young players we monitored but both are now injured. They are really interesting. As is Jordan Henderson and Kieran Gibbs.

'Walker is very interesting, too. I saw him play for the Under 21s. He is very fast and technically very good. But he has to improve with his defending.

'Martin Kelly is still very young but an England player for the future.'

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 Explore more:People: Fabio Capello, Andy Carroll, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Gareth Barry, Andres Iniesta, Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney, James Milner, Martin Kelly, Andrea Pirlo, Claude Makelele, Steven Gerrard, Owen Hargreaves Places: Copenhagen, Barcelona, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Denmark, Hungary, United Kingdom

Source: Daily_Mail