Jack Wilshere’s hopes of making England’s squad for the 2018 World Cup appear to be fading dramatically. The 26-year- old has been a part of the Three Lions’ exploits in the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, despite his lack of action in the Premier League for Arsenal.However, competition for places and a lack of form could result in his absence from the tournament in Russia should Gareth Southgate stand firm in his selection policy.
Pundits often suggest that Wilshere brings a different aspect of play to England’s game when he appears in the middle of the park. Injuries have played a significant role in the midfielder’s ability to further develop his skills. It’s clear to see that the talent is there, although, this term,
it has been evident that confidence and his diminishing physical traits have left it almost impossible for the 26-year-old to force his way into the 23-man squad.
Top of the World
It is an encouraging sign for England that they do not have to rely on Wilshere heading into the tournament. Roy Hodgson selected him for Euro 2016, despite his limited action for the Gunners in the 2015/16 campaign.
The usual suspects at the top of the market, Brazil, Germany, and Argentina, are more likely to secure the crown. England has not been contenders for a long time at the top of the world and even reaching the last eight of the tournament would be considered an achievement
this time around. Stranger things have happened but the institutional habit of picking players solely on their name appears to be at an end.
Walcott and the Ox
Wilshere’s decline has been a sad spectacle given the potential that he displayed at a young age for the Gunners. The midfielder has followed the path of another player that spent arguably too long at Arsenal – Theo Walcott. The winger was touted as the next big thing to
emerge in English football, highlighted by the fact that he was selected in the 2006 World Cup squad, although he didn’t play in Germany. Walcott failed to take the next step forward in his development and moved to Everton in January. The 29-year- old perhaps should have
opted to move on sooner from the Emirates in order to re-establish himself, a warning that may be heeded by other players.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on track to secure a berth in Southgate’s squad and is playing some of the best football of his career. The midfielder scored a stunning goal in Liverpool’s win over Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash. Oxlade-Chamberlain had a slow start to life at Anfield following his move from Arsenal. However, he has gone from strength-to-strength and has now emerged as one of the key players in the engine room. The 24-year- old’s progress in the summer, as well as next season when Naby Keita arrives, will be fascinating to watch.
Here is an example of a player that could reach his potential and be a key player for Southgate and England in Russia.