Roy Hodgson insists Jack Wilshere focused after ‘unfortunate furore’
England manager and players ‘convinced’ team will qualify for World Cup 2014
England captain Steven Gerrard and manager Roy Hodgson (right) address a press conference at the Grove Hotel, London. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Wilshere sparked a fresh debate over player eligibility this week after responding to suggestions the FA would pursue Manchester United’s Belgian youngster Adnan Januzaj by saying only English players should play for England.
The issue has dominated headlines since, but Hodgson does not expect there to be any impact when England take on Montenegro at Wembley on Friday evening.
“First of all I think his comments, if not misunderstood, were translated in a way people wanted to translate them,” Hodgson said. “People are always complaining that players don’t have an opinion or that they say nothing worth listening to, so I don’t think it’s quite right to criticise someone for having an opinion. The subject matter is worthy of debate and, at the end of the day, it will be a policy decision taken by the FA.
“From my point of view, it hasn’t affected Jack. I think he just shrugs it off.”
Wilshere has been a focus of attention for several reasons even before this week’s interview. He has frequently been playing out of position for Arsenal, stationed on the left due to the outstanding play of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey in the centre, and was then photographed with a cigarette in his mouth after the Gunners victory over Napoli.
But Hodgson said the 21-year-old is keeping his head down and not allowing events to distract him.
“I think we expect so much from Jack and that can be a slight problem for him,” he said. “When someone comes on to the scene with incredible talent you expect so much from them and every time they fall below those standards alarm bells start ringing. But he’s put behind him the unfortunate furore over his quotes and it’s not affected him one bit on the field. I think England will get a lot out of him in these next two games and for a long, long time to come.”
Hodgson reported a clean bill of health for his squad, and said he was excited by the attacking options he has with Daniel Sturridge present, while declining to confirm the Liverpool striker would start alongside Wayne Rooney.