Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere 'paying price for England not winning World Cup', says Arsene Wenger

The 22-year-old has not progressed as expected because of his injuries, insists the Gunners manager

Arsène Wenger has defended Jack Wilshere against criticism that he has not lived up to his early potential, saying: “He is being made to pay the price for England not winning the World Cup. I believe at the moment he should not respond to it, just focus on his game.”

Four years ago Jack Wilshere was hailed as the future. A year ago he was a spent force, a failure. Now, after a bright start to the season, his manager says the 22-year-old midfielder, who has been around for a long time but missed more than 18 months through injury, is “right where he should be”.

“No, he is not as far [progressed] as everyone expected him to be from when he was 18,” Wenger said. “But he’s not as far because he was injured, not because he doesn’t train seriously.

“When you get to 22, the expectation level comes on you. Rooney has gone through that, now it’s Wilshere.”

Wenger, whose Arsenal team visit Everton on Saturday, knows what he expects from a young man who still has the power to transform his side.

“I told him the target is for him to have the whole season being available to play. At the moment, I believe he should just focus on that – being fit, present and to improve physically. The rest will come along. If he can maintain himself physically fit, then he will have a huge career.”

Wenger also said he had “no regrets” about not seeking to re-sign Cesc Fabregas and thought Aaron Ramsey would turn out to be a better player. “He has developed into a player with huge potential and I think there is more coming out of Aaron Ramsey in the future,” said Wenger. “He’s younger than Cesc and the potential is there to get more out of Aaron.”

The Arsenal manager confirmed he is continuing to look for a central defender to replace his departed captain, Thomas Vermaelen who has joined Barcelona.

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