Wilshere 'integral' to England

England manager Roy Hodgson is crossing his fingers Jack Wilshere stays fit so he can guide England to the World Cup.

Last Updated: 15/08/13 at 15:11 Post Comment

Jack Wilshere tangles with Scott Brown.

Jack Wilshere tangles with Scott Brown.

England manager Roy Hodgson is crossing his fingers Jack Wilshere stays fit so he can guide England to the World Cup.

Arsenal midfielder Wilshere was making only his eighth international appearance in the friendly victory over Scotland on Wednesday night after a series of injury problems halted a career that showed such promise after he first made his England bow in 2010.

It was also only the second time he had started alongside skipper Steven Gerrard.

Hodgson certainly handled Wilshere with care, restricting the 21-year-old to just the first 45 minutes of the 3-2 win at Wembley. He is astute enough to realise he needs Wilshere in his midfield for the crucial encounters with Moldova and Ukraine at the beginning of next month.

"Jack is a wonderful footballer," said Hodgson.

"He's done ever so well to come back from the injury but what he needs now is to get these regular games.

"All I can hope for is that he remains injury-free because he is an integral part of our plans."

It is a measure of the esteem in which Hodgson holds Wilshere that he selected the youngster ahead of Frank Lampard, who replaced him at Wembley, a situation that would almost certainly have applied to Michael Carrick too even if the Manchester United midfielder had not pulled out with an eye infection.

"He's very important to us," said Hodgson.

"Jack has that ability to unlock doors with his incredible footwork and that fantastic change of pace.

"For a young man he has a very good understanding of the game.

"He was caught in possession once which led to a counter, but we have to take responsibility for that.

"We are always preaching to players to be confident and bold. Sometimes you will pay the price."

Whilst there were clear deficiencies in England's performance - Joe Hart was rightly blamed for Scotland's opener, whilst Gary Cahill was led a merry dance by Kenny Miller in the build-up to the second - there were enough positives for Hodgson to emerge from the encounter with a smile on his face.

Danny Welbeck bagged another goal too, extending his remarkable record of being more prolific on the international stage than the club arena, where he scored just twice last term, and almost got another with an acrobatic volley.

"I am pleased for Danny," said Hodgson.

"We wanted him and Theo to weigh heavily on the opposing defence.

"We didn't want classic wing play from them, we wanted them making runs in behind and threatening the back of the Scottish defence.

"We were going to bring our full-backs up if we needed it to provide that outlet."

Wayne Rooney emerged unscathed too, although even that was overshadowed by the storybook performance of Rickie Lambert, the long-time lower league player, handed his England debut at 31 and scoring with his very first touch.

With five goals and a blood-and-thunder approach from both sides, fully appreciated by an 80,000 crowd who generated a raucous atmosphere, little wonder there are now calls for the world's oldest international fixture to become an annual event again.

It is unlikely to happen, if only because of other priorities from friendly fixture dates.

Hodgson evidently enjoyed himself though, even if he has not lost sight of the main aim for the next couple of months.

"The noise the Scottish fans made was quite incredible," he said.

"Our fans did very well to not allow themselves to be drowned out. It was a great atmosphere.

"I would like to think that anyone who has seen that game would go away thinking it was really good.

"We, in particular, are happy because we managed to win it.

"It gives us a nice platform for the matches coming up in September and October."


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