Jan Molby

Wilshere blow highlights problem of being ‘too brave’

Jan Molby

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Poor Jack Wilshere.

That very same determination which helped him overcome injuries and get back to fitness and form could well see him missing Arsenal’s most crucial phase of the season – and potentially the World Cup.

When Wilshere was fouled by Daniel Agger in England’s friendly win over Denmark last night, I feared the worst – I think we all did.

In the end he got on his feet and carried on playing, because he is a warrior. He ploughs through things because he feels it is his duty – but that bravery and commitment can sometimes put you at risk.

I’m not a believer that, if a player picks up a knock in an international friendly, he should be taken off immediately. Whether he continues should be down to the discretion of the player and the medical staff.

So, while not surprised that Wilshere wanted to play on, I am concerned that England did not end his game at half-time and send him in for tests; it find it strange that they chose to risk him when, for example, they could have been well served by using the opportunity to send Ross Barkley on the field.

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Arsenal will be furious.

I am personally in favour of friendlies, but question the wisdom of holding them at such a crucial part of the club season, with so many games and competitions up for grabs for the top players.

Arsene Wenger has been public in his criticism of international friendlies though, and he was also public in questioning England’s dependency on Wilshere when he was returning from injury. Now two of his best English players will miss such a vital part of the season: Theo Walcott is definitely out of the World Cup too, with Wilshere now a doubt.

A fractured foot is six weeks out but it’s usually a lot longer, because it is such a sensitive and vital part of a footballer’s game. Fortunately it is not a metatarsal injury, because that would definitely be the season for him. I’m not a doctor but I understand a Navicular fracture is less serious.

But even if he is back in six weeks, Wilshere will need a few more weeks to get match fit, and England will want to have seen him get through a couple of matches at least before selecting him for the World Cup.

It doesn’t look good for the player, his club, or his country.

While England are not blessed with too many technical midfielders of Wilshere’s quality, at least they do have options. Steven Gerrard can be accompanied by Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, James Milner, and Frank Lampard. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can also play through the middle, while players like Tom Huddleston felt they deserved a call-up. And we’ve not even mentioned pariah of the month Tom Cleverley.

But Arsenal, for all the technical ability in their squad, do not have too many combative players like Wilshere. Of their midfielders, only Mathieu Flamini has any appetite for a scrap, and they will miss Wilshere’s drive in the coming months.

Arsenal have two huge cup games, against Everton at the weekend and Bayern Munich in their European second leg, and Wilshere would have been a vital cog in the machine.

But, through a combination of stubbornness and poor management by England, he will miss out, and so will Arsenal.

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