Wilshere spurs on Gerrard
Steven Gerrard has admitted that the emergence of Jack Wilshere was one of the major reasons why he opted not to quit after Euro 2012.
Just three senior games into his comeback after 17 months out, Wilshere will not start Wednesday night's friendly with Sweden. The 20-year-old is likely to be introduced at some point though, along with Crystal Palace youngster Wilfried Zaha.
As Liverpool's Raheem Sterling will have already become the fifth youngest England international of all time, there is a fresh feel about Roy Hodgson's side, which their captain feels invigorated by.
"When you are my age and have another disappointment with England it (quitting) crosses your mind," said Gerrard, who will win his 100th cap.
"After the Italy disappointment, I had a decision to make.
"But knowing players like Jack were coming through made me feel it was worth hanging about and carrying on for a couple more years to see if things change.
"If we can produce more players on Jack's level, maybe we have got a chance of going far in a tournament."
Gerrard wore a special pair of boots in training on Tuesday night, commemorating the fact he will follow Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Billy Wright in becoming England's latest century maker. He would happily swap the boots for a medal of course. But the nearest he has come are three quarter-final defeats, all of them on penalties. It means Gerrard's assessment of his own career, compared with that of Moore and Charlton, is brutal.
"If they are a ten I would rate myself as a six or seven," he said.
"(Moore and Charlton) will always be heroes of mine and heroes of English football. "In football, hero and legend status get given out far too easily. As far as playing for England goes, there are maybe 14 or 15 heroes. The rest haven't really delivered.
I don't really like talking about the 'golden generation' but, front to back, that (2000 to 2006) was a really strong team.
"I totally agree that group of players underachieved at big tournaments. It should certainly have got to a semi-final.
"I know we were unlucky at times in the penalty shoot-outs but that is certainly a regret now."
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