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Wenger: Jack the lad is alright
Published : 10 Sep 2010 14:52:00
Arsene Wenger believes Jack Wilshere is fully focused on the job in hand as the Arsenal youngster prepares to face former club Bolton. England Under-21s coach Stuart Pearce felt the 18-year-old had "taken his eye off the ball" following his arrest and subsequent bail in the wake of a late-night fracas in Kensington, which resulted in Wilshere being left on the bench for the European Championship qualifier in Portugal. However, the young Gunner helped galvanise England when introduced as a second-half substitute against Lithuania in Colchester on Tuesday afternoon, as the Young Lions booked their place in the play-offs with a 3-0 victory. Wilshere - who holds the record for Arsenal's youngest first-team appearance in the Premier League - spent a spell on loan at Bolton last season, and is now very much in Wenger's plans. "I have spoken to him since his arrest and he is focused," said the Gunners boss. "I believe he is always focused. When he is on the football pitch, he wants the ball and wants to play. "It could have been a concern of Pearce, but I believe Jack is a happy boy on the football pitch." Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney has been at the centre of allegations about his private life. With Premier League stars now on the front pages as much as the back, the issue of how players behave off the field continues to be of concern. England captain Rio Ferdinand, who came through the bootroom at West Ham, believes modern-day young professionals are too interested in the luxuries high salaries bring. Wenger feels players eventually grow out of such things. "We have all been 20-years-old - none of us were angels at 20, and we have all made mistakes," said the Arsenal manager, 61. "But I believe as well that what makes careers like Rio Ferdinand is at some stage they know when to stop and when to focus on their job and that is most important. "I believe the youth today is not worse than they were 10 years ago. "Overall every generation criticises the generation that replaces them, it has been the case since the Romans. "People that make careers are people that have the dedication and motivation and in every generation you have that." The Gunners boss added: "All managers have a little bit of an educational responsibility, but that is to behave well on the football pitch first. "Let's not go overboard - our responsibility first is how our players play on the pitch." Arsenal are currently second in the Premier League table, having beaten Blackburn before the international break. However, the Gunners resume on Saturday without Robin van Persie, injured at Ewood Park, Theo Walcott - sidelined for six weeks after damaging his ankle while away with England - and centre-half Thomas Vermaelen, who picked up an Achilles problem playing for Belgium. Wenger admits there is little a Premier League manager can do, but keep their fingers crossed and pray for their jet-setting squad to return unscathed. "It is frustrating, but we have to deal with it," said the Arsenal boss, who will have France winger Samir Nasri available following successful knee surgery. "Statistically you know when there is an international break, if you get everybody back without injury it is a little miracle. "Sometimes players go on different pitches in smaller countries with a different way of training, but we know now it is part of being a big club. "When people play international games, you do not always get them back." Facing Bolton is now a much different prospect under the management style of Owen Coyle. Wenger, though, expects a strong challenge at Emirates Stadium, where new signing Sebastien Squillaci is set for a debut in central defence. He said: "Bolton have a good mixture of a direct game and football on the ground. "They can be a very dangerous side, they have a good mixture of a technical game and a direct game."