Gareth Southgate has given a flimsy excuse for why he didn’t call-up Jack Wilshere.
The England manager had a midfield crisis on his hands, but still decided he had no need for Jack Wilshere.
Southgate attempted to justify his decision by claiming that Wilshere has been used in the wrong position at club level.
“Jack played as a number 10 all of last season on loan at Bournemouth,” Southgate said, as reported by World Soccer Talk.
“That is not the way we are playing. When we have played with a 10, we have had Dele and (Adam) Lallana. But we are not playing with a 10 tomorrow.
“I don’t think Jack is a 10. I think he is a deeper player, but he is not playing deeper. You’d have to ask Arsene (Wenger, the Arsenal manager) why that was.
“But I want to be clear: I really like Jack Wilshere as a player. I think he is a talent and I really respect him as an individual. And I’m hoping that we are in a position in March where we can pick him.”
These comments are especially questionable given that Southgate’s predecessors have happily tinkered with Wilshere’s position.
Fabio Capello, who gave Wilshere his England debut, played him in central midfield, but also brought up the idea of using him in a deeper role.
Roy Hodgson then put that idea into practice. Despite Wilshere playing as an attacking midfielder or on the flank for Arsenal, Hodgson used him at the base of a diamond midfield throughout qualifying for Euro 2016.
Southgate can have his own opinion about what Wilshere’s best position should be for his club, but there’s nothing stopping him from playing Jack deeper if he wants to.
Wilshere may be playing as attacking midfielder at Arsenal, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten how to play deeper. Nor does it mean that his club manager, who knows him better than Southgate, doesn’t know his best position. Let’s not forget, it’s not just Wenger who plays Wilshere in that role. Eddie Howe had Wilshere for a full season and did the same.
Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter what his best position is. Wilshere is a more talented player than Jack Cork and Jake Livermore, and should be in the squad for that reason alone.