Wilshere 'can play in World Cup'

Arsène Wenger believes talented 17-year-old could make the grade for England
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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger said yesterday that it would not be impossible for Jack Wilshere to make a serious bid to get in England's World Cup squad next summer after the 17-year-old scored two goals against Rangers in front of the watching Fabio Capello. The teenager was voted man of the match for the second time in as many days as Arsenal beat the Scottish champions 3-0.

The potential of Wilshere, a player who deserves his comparisons to an early Paul Gascoigne, is an intriguing prospect even if the chances of him forcing his way into an England squad well-stocked with experienced midfielders is remote. Nevertheless, Capello, who was at the game with his general manager Franco Baldini, could be persuaded to give the teenager a chance in a friendly between now and next summer.

Wilshere has looked one of Arsenal's best players over the weekend, playing the second half against Atletico Madrid in a 2-1 win on Saturday. The Stevenage-born midfielder, 18 in January, could have been playing for the England under-19s in their European championship final yesterday but has been promoted by Wenger back into the first team after eight games there last season.

Having managed to persuade Sven Goran Eriksson to take a 17-year-old Theo Walcott to the last World Cup in 2006, Wenger said that Capello might be a bit harder to win over. "I don't think over two games like that he [Capello] will make a decision but you never know," Wenger said. "Fortunately it is Capello's problem and not my problem.

"I don't know how much he will play. I have built him up, put him in the [senior] dressing room at 16, given him a chance to practise every day with the first-team players. If I had only taken him out of the youth team recently you would not have seen what you have seen today. He has benefited from special treatment, an acceleration of his education.

"He has played for one year with the first team. The only problem in England, knowing the impatience of English people it will be difficult to keep the right pace of his progress. He could not play a whole Premier League season. But how many games it is difficult to say. Jack is physically strong. How many games he will play it is very difficult to predict.

"Let's be calm and quiet, the World Cup is next year, still a year to go. Let's first see how he improves and plays, how he is consistent. Let's not make stars in two games. Before you had to play well for four or five years well somebody said: 'Maybe he can play for national team'. Now everybody is quick because everybody watches everything. I still believe you have to respect the development of the players."

Wilshere scored his first in just two minutes, taking the ball across the area from Andrei Arshavin's knockdown and brushing off Cesc Fabregas – who wanted the ball – before putting it beyond Allan McGregor. After Eduardo da Silva scored the second Arsenal goal, Wilshere scored another on 72 minutes from Aaron Ramsey's cross.

On the subject of Patrick Vieira's potential return, Wenger said he was still not convinced. The former Arsenal captain travels to Beijing this week to play for Internazionale in the Italian Super Cup against Lazio. "Patrick is a great player and I have not considered it [bringing him back] yet," Wenger said.

Philippe Senderos, back from a loan spell at Milan, is a target for Everton. The Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh was withdrawn from a friendly last night in what is expected to signal a move to Arsenal.

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