Roy Hodgson has all-but confirmed that Jack Wilshere will be in England's World Cup squad, even if he does not play for Arsenal again this season.
The midfielder has been sidelined since aggregating a foot injury during England's 1-0 victory over Denmark on 5 March, but is back in full training. Hodgson says that he has received encouraging updates on Wilshere's fitness from Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger.
"Wilshere has been training with the others at Arsenal and, while he is not being thrown back into the fray, he is there," Hodgson said. "He has been training with the team, as far as I know, for a while.
"I am not prepared to have a 100 per cent rule that you either play in the last game of the season or you don’t go — I am not prepared to do that.
"I have spoken to Arsene and they have been holding him back because they don’t want to push him too early."
The return of Wilshere is a rare boost on the injury front for Hodgson, who will be without Wilshere's Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott, Southampton's Jay Rodriguez, plus Tottenham's Andros Townsend. It was revealed yesterday that fellow Spurs player Kyle Walker would likely also miss the competition.
"We are still monitoring the situation with Kyle," he said. "We haven't been told for certain that he will be out for the next six to 10 weeks but we are concerned that he has been out a long time and has not been able to do any training as far as we know. I know he has had another injection and we are waiting to find out on the back of that."
As for the winger Townsend, one of the key performers in England's World Cup qualifying campaign, Hodgson spoke of his disappointment for the player.
"I am very disappointed, I have to say," Hodgson added. "I am disappointed for him in particular because he had a fantastic debut for England, bursting on to the scene, and did really well. I have been a bit disappointed for him that he has not had as much playing time over recent months as I was hoping, but to see him ruled out like this with a serious ankle injury is a cruel blow.
"My thoughts are very much with him and the only thing I can say is the classic 'He is young and there will be lots of other opportunities', but I am sure that won't make him feel better at the moment when his chance to get into the squad has been taken away from him."
- More about: