Fabio Capello faces dilemma over Jack Wilshere

England boss must make tricky decision over how to make most of 19-year-old's talent, writes Tom Clarke

By Tom Clarke
jack wilshere
Jack Wilshere has sparkled for Arsenal this season Photo: The Sport Review

jack wilshere

Jack Wilshere is the latest in that never-ending line of prodigious English talent that we all get very excited about – and he has quite rightly been drawing admiring glances from across Europe of late.

Some have hailed him as England’s answer to Xavi Hernández or Andrés Iniesta. Others claim he is so good that Arsenal can afford to allow Cesc Fàbregas to move back to Spain.

But with his talent Wilshere provides us with a serious problem.

There can be no doubt that Wilshere will become a star for Arsenal in the coming years and that he may even be good enough to fill the void left if and when captain Fàbregas jumps ship.

The issue, as is seemingly always the case with this country’s talented midfielders, comes down to England.

Wilshere, still only 19, has thrived in Arsenal’s midfield this season alongside Fàbregas, Alex Song, Samir Nasri and others. Arsenal’s midfield works well with Song as its base and the rest functioning on an interlinking basis, a free-flowing interchanging of positions to compliment Arsène Wenger side’s passing game. This is where Wilshere works best.

Following his display against Barcelona last week many football writers called for Fabio Capello to give Wilshere free reign in England’s midfield.

But there is one man who may have a problem with that: Wayne Rooney.

For Wilshere to operate successfully in this free role he needs to be part of a midfield three – the set-up Arsenal and Barcelona use with great success.

He needs an Alex Song or a Sergio Busquets. He also needs, while still so young, a figure of authority such as Fàbregas. England have these players in Gareth Barry, Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

england formations

But then we have the problem of Rooney. If Capello was to play with a midfield three of Barry, Wilshere and Gerrard, for example, it would be at Rooney’s expense for he would either have to play up front on his own or on one the flanks. If Andy Carroll proves to be worth £35m then he will no doubt play up top with Rooney forced out on the left-wing.

Capello will be reluctant to switch Rooney around too much and will likely want to stick with his 4-4-2 formation which, in fairness, worked well against Denmark.

But then we lose all that Wilshere does so well, create, break up play, assist and score goals in the final third. A rigid 4-4-2 formation with attacking wingers would shackle Wilshere to the centre circle by asking him to play the holding role he occupied against Denmark. This would mean we will lose out on any chance of our English Xavi or Iniesta as Capello attempts to turn Wilshere into his own Andrea Pirlo.

It comes down to a straight fight between England’s two most talented players and Capello must choose between Wilshere and Rooney. It remains to be seen whose skill and talent will be restricted for the other to excel.

If Capello goes with Rooney and consigns Wilshere to a career in a 4-4-2 then we may well see yet another England midfielder whose brilliance shines for his club but only flickers for his country.

How do you solve a problem like Jack?

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