Wilshere studying Alonso and Pirlo
13 October 2014, 10:59
London - England midfielder Jack Wilshere has been watching clips of Xabi Alonso and Andrea Pirlo as he bids to fill the holding midfield void created by the international retirement of Steven Gerrard.
The hugely talented but often maligned Wilshere has played in a number of midfield roles for club and country but has yet to make any one position his own.
However, the retirement of Gerrard has left a void at the base of England's midfield, a position Wilshere may be well-equipped to fill.
For much of his career Gerrard operated in an advanced position but in his twilight years was moved to the holding position at the base of a midfield diamond, first by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and then England boss Roy Hodgson.
Wilshere, a self-proclaimed student of the game has been studying the much-celebrated pair of Alonso and Pirlo, two of the best exponents of the role.
"I have been watching Xabi Alonso on video in the past couple of weeks," Wilshere told British reporters. "He had a record number of passes in one game, nearly 200 in one match, which is ridiculous.
"Watching players like him and Andrea Pirlo, you learn how clever they are, how intelligent they are on the ball.
"I get the clips through on my iPad. The analyst guys here send them to me and they highlight some of his key points, his key strengths. That's part and parcel of learning."
Wilshere was particularly eye-catching when deployed in the role in the second half of England's 5-0 Euro 2016 qualifier against San Marino and has the talent, drive and tenacity to make the position his own.
Also read: Buoyant Irish eye rare win over besieged Germany
"It was my second game in that position against San Marino and I thought 'I've already improved.' So there's a lot more to come from me in that position, but the more I watch players like that, the quicker I'll learn," he added.
"In that role it's important you have to understand that if you lose the ball, the opposition are in a dangerous position to counter-attack. Whereas if I was playing a little bit higher, on the edge of the box, you can lose it and you have players around who can get the ball back.
"You learn how they use the ball and you learn when it's a good time to dribble or sometimes pass. I enjoy playing that role. I enjoy getting on the ball and starting attacks."
England will be aiming to win their third successive Euro 2016 qualifier when they play Estonia in Tallinn on Sunday.