Wilshere ready for hard work

Arsenal midfielder Wilshere admitted he never would have believed

it if someone had told him a year ago he would now have five senior

caps, when he was not even a regular for the Gunners. The

19-year-old appears to have become indispensable for both club and

country during the past 12 months and looks a certain pick for the

remainder of England’s European Championship qualifying campaign.

But Wilshere is taking nothing for granted, pointing out his

meteoric rise had coincided with an injury to Steven Gerrard, while

Wayne Rooney was also suspended on Saturday. “There are still big

players missing – the likes of Rooney, Steven Gerrard, who plays

centre-mid,” he said. “I’m still 19. I’ve got a lot of work to do.

“I’ve got to come back in the summer and have a good pre-season and

see if I can get back in the team next year.” Wilshere could not

hide his delight at his progress during the past year. “At the

start of the season, there was talk of me going back to Bolton (on

loan) and the manager (Arsene Wenger) said he’d be happy with me if

I played 25 games,” he said. “I played 60 games. “I’ve surprised

myself, really, but hopefully I can do the same next year. “I’ve

still got a lot of work to do. I’m 19. there are good players at

Arsenal who want to take my position and there are even better

players with England who want to take my position. “So I’ve got to

work hard and try to keep myself in every team that I play in.”

Wilshere was one of few England players to enhance their

reputations in yesterday’s 2-2 Group G draw against the Swiss at

Wembley, the teenager inspiring his country’s fightback from 2-0

behind by immediately winning a penalty. He also played an

inch-perfect pass to Darren Bent for what should have been the

winner. Bent went on to miss an absolute sitter, while his Aston

Villa team-mate Stewart Downing also fired wide in the final

seconds. Wilshere said: “We had chances and, in football, you have

to take your chances. “We got the point – we could’ve taken all

three. “But Benty’s nicked loads of goals for England and Stewart

came on and he did well, so we can’t be too mad at them.”

Montenegro failed to make England fully pay for their slip-up when

they later drew 1-1 with Bulgaria, meaning the sides stayed level

on points at the top of Group G. “We know we could’ve won and been

in a stronger position,” said Wilshere. “We’ve got to play

Montenegro yet and we’re confident that we can go there and get

three points.” Before then, Wilshere plans to take full advantage

of the rest Wenger has insisted he so desperately needs. He said:

“I’m going to go away and get on a beach for a couple of weeks and

then come back in pre-season rested and ready.”