Much-maligned Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere is set to remain on the sidelines for at least another month following a recent setback in his return from a leg injury. Wilshere, who was injured while training with his club last month, has yet to feature so far this season and has also missed out on the last two international matches for his country. Despite the fact that England recorded victories in both games, the Three Lions would greatly benefit from a fit Wilshere ahead of Euro 2016.
It was previously thought that Wilshere could possibly be healthy and ready to make his Premier League season debut either this weekend against Stoke City or in next Saturday’s clash with rivals Chelsea. However, news recently broke that the 23-year-old is progressing slowly and may even be out for up to three more months if additional surgery is required. The best-case scenario for the player, the Gunners, and the England national team, is that he will not need to go under the knife and return to training by the beginning of October.
The silver lining to Wilshere’s setback, at least to England fans, is that their team has already booked tickets to next summer’s European Championship. There would be no reason to rush their star midfielder back too soon and risk further injury. Although Wilshere is a polarizing player and is not liked by everyone, no one should underestimate just how important he is to the England team.
Over the last calendar year, Wilshere has been selected Man of the Match a whopping six times during international play. It just so happens that the Arsenal midfielder has six total appearances with the England team during this period.
Following two outstanding matches last October, former England international Paul Scholes labeled Wilshere as England’s top player:
“I thought Jack Wilshere had two very good games for England during the last week. I would go one step further than that and say that, at the moment, Wilshere is England’s best player. The penny has dropped and he has added another dimension to his game. He has always been capable of that intricate passing game. Now he can play the ball long, too.”
Wilshere followed up those two games with four consecutive Man of the Match performances. The central midfielder showed off a plethora of skills during this stretch, including an acutely accurate long ball assist to compatriot Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Scotland and a beautiful brace against Slovenia in June:
While England will certainly take the goals and assists from their premier player, it’s Wilshere’s ability to boss the middle of the pitch by providing both a defensive presence and quality outlet passes to his attacking teammates that makes him so vital to the team. The Three Lions have deployed Jonjo Shelvey and Fabian Delph in Wilshere’s usual position during his time on the sidelines, and while both are solid players, neither can match the ability and intensity that Wilshere brings to the squad.
With plenty of time still remaining until next summer’s European tournament, England will hope for the best in Wilshere’s attempt to stay healthy. The England national team has never won the Euro competition, and while they are certainly not the favorites to take home the cup, having a fit Wilshere in their side will increase their chances of collecting their first major trophy in nearly 50 years.
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