Back in October, Joe Willock admitted his most recent England u21 performance wasn’t his best, but he knows Freddie Ljungberg will help him learn from it.
Willock featured twice for the England u21s over the international break, his first appearances for the u21 side. The midfielder had received one previous call-up but had to pull out with injury, so that was his first chance to impress.
Though the Arsenal midfielder played well against Slovenia, he felt he wasn’t quite so impressive in the second game against Austria.
Having watched the game myself, Willock didn’t make any major errors, he just wasn’t quite as incisive and dangerous as he could have been.
It shows good self-awareness from the 20-year-old to recognise that, and he says he calls on Arsenal’s now interim manager, Freddie Ljungberg, for help in these situations.
“I’m going to text him tonight, I’m going to tell him how the game went and he’s going to give me some feedback,” Willock said. “I know he’s going to get onto me because it wasn’t one of my best games. I’m going to ask him what I could have done better.
“He shows me what to do and when I’ve done stuff wrong he tells me about it. It’s good. It’s all improvement. He’s always watching.
“He keeps my feet on the ground, he always encourages me but always tells me what I need to do better. Freddie is a good mentor and we speak a lot.
“Freddie’s a great guy, he’s an Arsenal legend, everyone knows that. He taught me a lot of things I don’t really want to say in an interview but a lot of things that I can apply to my game.”
Ljungberg’s influence on Willock’s career so far could hardly be more evident.
In the space of a season, the young midfielder went from being somebody the supporters had written off after a poor senior league debut against Newcastle, to a player they’re calling on to start each game.
Willock is more of a goal threat than he’s ever been, having his best goalscoring season in 2018/19 and netting three times in his last three starts for the senior side before his return to the side on Thursday night.
His powerful runs through the middle are starting to become a trademark of his performances as well. He does still have room to improve though, and it seems he knows just where to turn to get the right advice to move forward.