Roy Hodgson asks for Jack Wilshere expectations to be kept in check
Arsenal midfielder has not been short of plaudits since returning from injury
Tuesday 05 February 2013
Roy Hodgson has urged that the expectation levels surrounding fit again England midfielder Jack Wilshere are kept in check ahead of tomorrow night's friendly international with Brazil at Wembley.
Wilshere is poised to start for his country for the first time since the Euro qualifier with Switzerland in June 2011.
The Arsenal player has been in impressive form since returning from his lengthy injury lay-off and he appeared as a substitute for England against Sweden in November.
But Hodgson hopes that not too much weight is placed on his young shoulders in terms of being billed as the player who will lead England to glory.
Hodgson said: "Jack is a player who carries a huge weight of responsibility at a young age.
"I hope everyone is going to understand he is still a young man, he is 21 and still capable of playing in the under-21s, not that he will.
"I'm anxious in some ways and, while delighted with his form and the way he plays and sharing everyone's enthusiasm about his quality, I want to play it down a bit too.
"I wouldn't like to see him have to take a backward step because all of a sudden his name is being put forward as the saviour of the English football team. We've got other players too.
"I'm hoping Jack's contribution, which will be a big contribution, will be matched by big contributions by the other players like Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Cole, Johnson etc."
Wilshere's cameo role against the Swedes was the first time he had ever played alongside England skipper Steven Gerrard who is glowing in his praise for the player.
He said: "If Jack stays fit, he has got the talent and ability to be a top player for England.
"All the other players and the manager are excited to have him back.
"He has had a disappointing time with injuries and I've felt for him because I've been there myself.
"But fingers crossed he can avoid injuries in the future and get a run of games in this team."
Hodgson confirmed that Ashley Cole will win his 100th cap against Brazil - a feat also achieved by Gerrard in Stockholm three months ago.
But the England chief conceded Cole is under more pressure for his place than at any time in his 11 year international career from Everton left-back Leighton Baines.
He said: "Ashley has come under greater scrutiny if you like and the competition for his place is greater than in the past.
"I feel Leighton has matured enormously as an international player during the last year and is playing extremely well.
"Cole is playing well and Leighton is also playing well. I'm pleased to have the headache.
"It won't be an easy choice when they are both fit and vying to play in the important games.
"But I'll cross the bridge when I come to it and at the moment Ashley is the player we all know and respect and admire.
"Leighton is breathing down his neck and Ashley is not stupid, he has got big competition but that's how it should be
"If we are ever going to have a top class England team, there will be that level of competition throughout the team."
Cole has not always been popular with England fans but Hodgson believes he deserves a favourable reception at Wembley tomorrow evening.
He said: "I deal with Ashley the footballer, the man I know on the football field, who I know as an England player, who is trying to help me win matches.
"I see no reason for England fans not giving him the credit and reception and the admiration he deserves playing his 100th game.
"If you are an England fan and don't respect or love someone for doing that, then that's your problem and not his."
Hodgson is paying full respect to tomorrow's clash with the five times world champions but knows qualification for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 is the main objective.
He said: "It's a showpiece fixture, the perfect way to start 2013. I couldn't have wished for a better fixture to prepare us for the qualifiers coming up.
"But we are fully aware whenever you are in a qualifying campaign, they are the matches that count however prestigious and difficult to negotiate the friendly fixtures are.
"I was anxious to pick a squad this time that included all of the senior players, all the ones we may be reliant upon.
"This game in particular, we hope it will show us we are on the right track and when March comes around we will be able to get good results in the qualifiers with San Marino and Montenegro."
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