Hodgson cheered by newly dependable Wilshere
20 November 2014, 09:25
Glasgow - England manager Roy Hodgson believes that he is finally seeing the best of Jack Wilshere following the talented Arsenal midfielder's well-documented struggles with injury.
Wilshere broke into the Arsenal first team as a teenager during the 2010-11 season, but an unfortunate sequence of ankle problems meant he had made only six appearances for England by the end of 2012.
The 22-year-old has since won a further 20 caps and has impressed in a new deep-lying midfield role in recent games, notably creating the opening goal in England's 3-1 friendly win over Scotland on Tuesday with a fine, raking pass for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
"Basically, he's very young," Hodgson told reporters following England's victory in Glasgow.
"He burst on to the scene even younger, of course. A very bright future was predicted for him, but then he got injured.
"My first year and a half with the team, we were always thinking, 'What a pity we haven't got Jack Wilshere,' or, 'Wouldn't it be nice if Jack was fit?'
"And it's really only been since the lead-up to the World Cup and afterwards that I've had this period with him where I can always count on him being there. Right from the start, we saw what he could do.
"Players who can do what he does with the ball -- take the responsibility of receiving balls from the back, even under pressure; ability to turn with the ball; ability to see a pass -- all he needs to add to his game to be totally outstanding is goals."
England's victory over Scotland saw them complete a run of six successive wins for the first time since 2006.
Their only two defeats of the year came during the World Cup, when 2-1 losses to Italy and Uruguay saw them eliminated at the group phase. New blood
Hodgson has blooded several young players since the tournament, including Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne, who impressed against Scotland, and he feels that a new core of players is beginning to harden.
"Some players who were with us in the World Cup retired or are no longer selected, and there are a lot of younger players who've come in who were really on the fringes of the World Cup team, and actually ended up playing in the final game against Costa Rica," he said.
"They're the guys now who've really been asked to step up to the plate and that's exactly what I think they've done, and we've even found a few more along the way.
"I'm thinking of Fabian Delph, who unfortunately got injured, but he came into the squad and looked very comfortable there. I'm thinking of Nathaniel Clyne, who's come into the squad and looked very, very comfortable.
"And on top of that, we've got the (Danny) Welbecks and the (Raheem) Sterlings and the Oxes (Oxlade-Chamberlain), and all these guys that you know, who have played bit-parts up to now.
"But we think in our work going forward, they've got to play more than bit-parts -- they've got to show they're bona fide, good quality, international England players, just like you're mentioning Wayne Rooney."
Hodgson also said he would be happy for England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate to select players from the senior squad for next June's Under-21 European Championship in the Czech Republic, despite it clashing with two England fixtures.
"After Gareth Southgate has picked his squad, I will pick my squad for Slovenia. I'll take whoever's left," he said.
"If Gareth thinks the best way to win the tournament is to jettison a lot of the players he's been working with and take players from our team, that's fine by me."