Wenger: Wilshere made a mistake but is ready for action
Saturday 11 September 2010
Wayne Rooney is not the only footballer who has been on the news not the sports pages of late, but Arsène Wenger believes his young Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is fully focused on the job in hand, namely helping his side beat Bolton Wanderers at the Emirates today.
The England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce felt the 18-year-old had "taken his eye off the ball" following his arrest and bail in the wake of a late-night fracas in Kensington, which resulted in Wilshere being left on the bench for the European Championship qualifier in Portugal.
However, the youngster helped galvanise England when introduced as a second-half substitute against Lithuania in Colchester on Tuesday, as Pearce's side booked their place in the play-offs with a 3-0 win.
Wilshere – who holds the record for Arsenal's youngest first-team appearance in the Premier League – spent a spell on loan at Bolton last season, and is now very much in Wenger's plans.
"I have spoken to him since his arrest and he is focused," said Wenger. "I believe he is always focused. When he is on the football pitch, he wants the ball and to play. It could have been a concern of Pearce, but I believe Jack is a happy boy on the football pitch."
Despite the spotlight falling on footballers for their errant behaviour lately Wenger feels players eventually grow out of such things. "We have all been 20 years old – none of us were angels at 20, and we have all made mistakes," said the Arsenal manager, 60. "But I believe as well that what makes careers is at some stage they know when to stop and when to focus on their job and that is most important.
"I believe the youth today is not worse than they were 10 years ago. Overall every generation criticises the generation that replaces them, it has been the case since the Romans.
"People that make careers are people that have the dedication and motivation and in every generation you have that. All managers have a little bit of an educational responsibility, but that is to behave well on the football pitch first. Our responsibility first is how our players play on the pitch."
The Frenchman Sebastien Squillaci is set to make his Arsenal debut in central defence today as Thomas Vermaelen picked up an Achilles problem playing for Belgium in the week. Arsenal are also without Robin van Persie, injured at Blackburn before the international break, and Theo Walcott – sidelined for six weeks after damaging his ankle while away with England.
Wenger admits there is little a Premier League manager can do, but keep their fingers crossed and pray for their jet-setting squad to return unscathed. "It is frustrating, but we have to deal with it," he said. Arsenal will have winger Samir Nasri available following successful knee surgery.
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