by Lewis Ambrose
Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour knows what it takes to come through the Hale End Academy and have a career as a first-team regular at Arsenal, but can Jack Wilshere do it too?
Parlour believes he can, he just needs to stay fit. Since breaking into the Arsenal side during the 2010/11 season Wilshere has missed 116 games through injury (Transfermarkt) and that is evidently a trend that needs to stop.
“We said last year it was a big season but I think injury wise it’s a massive season,” Parlour said when asked about the current Arsenal and England midfielder.
“When he played for England he was superb, two cracking goals that was on part of his game he probably had to improve scoring a few more goals from midfield.”
Parlour was at Arsenal until 2004 but has remained close to the club and the players since leaving and says the very best players in Arsenal history were impressed by Wilshere when he first trained with them.
“He’s such good quality I remember at 15 when he first came over to train with the lads he was so confident in his ability.
“Training with Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry he was superb and I always said he would be a top class player and a star in the future.”
Wilshere is now 23 years old and, with the likes Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil ahead of him in the middle of midfield, could stop him from getting regular football. There are plenty of games in the season and Wilshere has to be available to play in those central positions, or out wide, whenever Wenger opts to use him.
“Injuries have stopped (him) getting to that world class (level), but if he can stay injury-free for two or three seasons i think you’ll see the best of Jack Wilshere and he’s certainly a top top class player,” said Parlour.
“Arsène Wenger is a manager to say if he gets in the side and performs he will be staying in the side.
“It’s a big season for him he knows that he’s gone back early to train and get his body ready for the season. This pre-season is very important for him.”
Wilshere has been linked with a move to Manchester City this summer, who have now signed his England teammates Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph. The Citizens could have done with Wilshere too but he has reiterated his desire to stay at Arsenal, who never seemed willing to sell him.
“I don’t think this season he was ever gong to be leaving. I think he wants to prove he can get in that side and play week in week out.”
Even if he steers clear of injuries there are no guarantees. Wenger has plenty of fantastic midfielders at his disposal and Jack Wilshere will have to prove himself to get into the team. When he does get a chance he will have to stay fit and take it.
Only then will we see whether or not Jack Wilshere can become a ‘world class’ player.