Fabio Capello has claimed Jack Wilshere is the most exciting young midfielder he has ever seen.
With just one England start and only two caps to his name, Wilshere will be handed a midfield role in next week's Euro 2012 qualifier with Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
It is a major leap of faith from the normally conservative Capello but underlines just how highly the 19-year-old is rated.
"Jack Wilshere is the best young midfielder I have seen for his age," said Capello.
"He will be England captain one day. He needs more caps but he is a real leader."
In terms of confidence, maturity and willingness to accept responsibility at such a formative stage of his career, Capello likens Wilshere to Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Raul.
It has taken a bit of time to reach that conclusion.
By his own admission, Capello was uncertain whether Wilshere was ready when he handed the teenager a seven-minute debut against Hungary in August.
However, in last month's friendly against Denmark and Arsenal's recent two-legged Champions League encounter with Barcelona, Wilshere proved beyond any doubt he is the real deal.
"It is incredible," admitted Capello.
"In this last seven months, he improved a lot. After that very first game I was not sure because he didn't play with a lot of confidence and following the Denmark game, some people were surprised when I said I was really happy with his performance.
"But he played with confidence and without fear. He tried to do the same things he usually does when he plays for Arsenal.
"And everyone can understand his value after the games against Barcelona.
"I followed him. I monitored him during the game in Barcelona.
"Against the most difficult team, one of the best teams of all, he played the same game, with the same confidence that he did in the first leg in London.
"Then Arsenal won. The second time it was more difficult."Reuse content