Wilshere: Age is no excuse
A crestfallen Jack Wilshere thinks England cannot use their youthfulness as an excuse for World Cup failure.
England touched down on home soil on Wednesday following their worst World Cup campaign in history.
Despite months of careful and costly planning, England finished bottom of Group D with just one point.
There were a few glimpses of positivity from the likes of Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw and Wilshere himself in the 0-0 draw against Costa Rica, but that mattered little to the Arsenal midfielder, who said he was "devastated" to exit the competition at the first hurdle.
"It's easy for me to stand here and say: 'we're young, we can go forward.' But if you look at Germany, they've got young players who are delivering now," Wilshere said.
"Time is running out for us to say we're young anymore. I'm 22, Ross and Luke (Shaw) and Raheem (Sterling) are young players.
"They showed in this tournament what they can do. But in the next tournament, we really have to deliver.
"It is a nice group of young players and hopefully we can stick together, learn from this tournament, take all this disappointment and bottle it up. This is the worst feeling. I'm devastated."
Roy Hodgson has been criticised for selecting such a youthful squad, and for his tactics.
But Wilshere says the players are to blame for the early exit, not the England manager.
When asked if Hodgson still had the backing of the squad, Wilshere said: "Yeah, of course.
"It is not the manager's fault.
''The manager can pick the team but the players have to go on the pitch and do it.
''Everyone here respects the manager. He has got a fantastic CV and been to World Cups before.
''If anything comes out of this, it is that this manager is the one to take us forward.
''The coaching staff - Gary Neville, Ray Lewington - they are different class. They help us as much as they can. But they can only put you on the pitch and then it's down to us.''
With question marks hanging over Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who have a combined age of 70, Wilshere could find himself England's main man in central midfield for the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
Wilshere made his international debut four years ago, but injury has restricted him to just 12 England starts.
To avoid suffering any injuries next year, Wilshere will start his pre-season training early as he wants to be at peak fitness by the time the Premier League kicks off on August 16.
"I think I will go back early," Wilshere said.
"My fitness is on the way up and I don't want to lose that.
"I'm going to have maybe a couple of weeks off. But I don't want to lose my fitness.
"I'm going to carry on training, do my bit, because I only played two games in the last three or four months."
Wilshere feels this could be the season that he finally lives up to the expectations that arose when he burst on to the scene four years ago
"I think it is (a big year for me), and for Arsenal," he said.
"I'm not young anymore. I'm going to be 23 in January and that's a good age for a footballer.
"I've got to try and get over this then try to move on next season."
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