Roy still fancies Wilshere, and talks up Noble

Matt Stead

Roy Hodgson clearly still fancies Jack Wilshere, and has also discussed Mark Noble’s chances of playing for England.

The 24-year-old midfielder has been sidelined since breaking his fibula on the eve of the current campaign, the latest in a long list of injury problems he has had to contend with.

Following a squad get-together at St George’s Park in February, Hodgson has two friendlies – against Germany and Holland – this month before he must name his squad for the finals.

Wilshere is not likely be involved in the double-header as he continues his comeback – although Gunners’ manager Arsene Wenger expects him to be fit in the next three to four weeks.

Hodgson said a lack of game time does not mean he would opt against calling up the 28-cap player, having never understood why it is believed players need to have played a certain number of games before being considered fit or not.

He likened Wilshere’s situation to that of Tottenham double-winning defender Dave Mackay – who overcame a twice-broken left leg to remain an important member of the successful Spurs side of the late 1960s.

“Dave Mackay came back from two broken legs,” Hodgson said when asked if he is concerned that Wilshere has not played this season.

“The first one he came back almost immediately after his leg was healed and played a game, and then he broke it again but played again as soon as it healed again.

“I don’t know why we should be quite as protective as all that. Players are either fit to play or not. Whether they play 30 games, 40 games, 10 games, 15 games, 8 games, I don’t understand that.

“For me it’s all about the class of the player. It’s about who is in form and out of form. Even to some extent I have to rely on others’ judgement on that.

“Form is transient, but class isn’t. We need classy players and players we can trust and players we know what they will give us and players who have the desire, motivation and wish to play for England, to do all that’s necessary.

“Luckily we have some of those. But let’s be realistic, we are not in the 60, 70 and 80s when it comes to those. If there are 30 players who reach the high standards I demand we will have to pick 23 from them.”

Hodgson went on to suggest his captain Wayne Rooney would also be involved – even if he is not back to his best when the Euros come around.

Rooney is suffering from a knee injury picked up in Manchester United defeat to Sunderland last month and is hoping to return by the end of March.

The 30-year-old became England’s all-time top goalscorer during a perfect qualification campaign for the Euros which saw Hodgson’s side record 10 wins out of 10 but was heavily criticised for a perceived lack of form earlier in the season.

England face Russia, Wales and Slovakia in Group B – with their first game coming on June 11 and Hodgson has said Rooney will not have to be in a rich vein of form to be involved, he simply needs to be fit.

“He has got to come back before the end of the season, there is no doubt about that,” the England boss said at a Euro 2016 coaches workshop in Paris.

“Form is transient, his qualities, his leadership qualities and the fact he is captain of England is not transient – that is a given.

“There is no way I should be looking to dismiss a Wayne Rooney who is fit and playing football on the basis he is out of form because he is our captain and a captain is important and there are 23 players.

“What he has got to try and do is get fit so I can pick him and then show enough form when he is with us to demand a place in the team – that is what Wayne fully understands because he is a footballer and all his life he has had to do that.”

When asked who else could make his squad, Hodgson name-checked West Ham’s Mark Noble, Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann, Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross, Watford’s Troy Deeney and Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater.

“I have been watching Noble for eight years – I tried to sign him at Fulham – I have been watching Scott Dann for four years. I have been watching Ryan Shawcross,” Hodgson said. “I have been watching Troy Deeney for two or three years.”