Arsenal's Jack Wilshere forcing way into England squad - Arsene Wenger
LONDON -- Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is confident that Jack Wilshere has forced his way back into the England squad with his recent performances, and says the midfielder's improved defensive awareness has taken his game to another level.
Wilshere was one of Arsenal's standout performers in the 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on Thursday, his fourth straight Premier League start after being used sparingly during the first half of the season.
England manager Gareth Southgate snubbed Wilshere in his previous squad selection, citing a lack of league starts, but Wenger said the midfielder is making it impossible to overlook him for the national team.
"First of all, I don't think that Southgate ignores him, but he will certainly re-think about his situation, when he [produces] performances like that," Wenger said.
Wenger has said he will sit down with Wilshere in the next couple of weeks to hammer out a new contract for the Arsenal academy product, whose current deal expires in the summer.
Wilshere himself has said he wants to sign an extension, and has made the most of his opportunity to fill in for the injured Aaron Ramsey at the heart of Arsenal's midfield.
Wenger had said earlier this season that he viewed Wilshere mainly as an attacking midfielder playing higher up the pitch, but the 25-year-old has excelled in a deeper-lying role in recent games.
Wilshere credited last season's loan spell at Bournemouth with improving his defensive game and tackling ability as Eddie Howe's team plays more without the ball than Arsenal, and Wenger said: "Where he has really improved is tactically and defensively.
"And you see when he does that, his offensive game becomes even better. Jack has a great quality -- when he wins the ball he gets you out of the first pressure, because he has that little burst that gets you out of pressure and then suddenly he can open the game up.
"His positional play is good. You see that straight away -- where he is is the right place. Football is first where to be on the pitch, where to stand. After, where to run. But at the start you have first to stand at the right place, and he does that well."
Wilshere has avoided any more injuries since returning from a leg fracture he suffered toward the end of last season, but Wenger admitted he still worries about the midfielder when he stays down after a tackle, and said he has a lot of respect for Wilshere's ability to come back from so many injuries.
"Give him credit for what this guy has gone through. And his performance [against Palace], that deserves credit because it demands some character," Wenger said. "It's all nicey-nicey when you're super talented and everybody says you're the greatest player at 17, but to come back to that level when you have gone through what he has gone through, that shows a special character."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.