Arsenal's Jack Wilshere believes his rapid rise to the top has raised expectations around him to unrealistic levels, as he has struggled to maintain his form and fitness for club and country this season.
Wilshere, 21, was hailed by some of his local media as the saviour of the England national team and Arsenal as he exploded through the ranks, but he has suggested that the hype is a little misplaced.
"I do think [people forget my age]," he told reporters. "Not just because I've been around for a long time, but people hear I've got two kids and it’s not often you hear about a 21-year-old with two kids.
"I've been in the first team since I was 16, so that’s five years, which is quite a long time in football terms. I made my debut when I was 16 and the aim was to play for England and it came pretty quickly, when I was 18.
"At that point, the main thing after that was to keep my place in the Arsenal team week in, week out and I did during that season.
"People are always going to criticise you and judge your performances all the time. They are paid to do that, so you have to concentrate on your own game. I play week in, week out against 31 and 32-year-olds, so I think you just have to take that."
Wilshere trained with the England squad on Wednesday and there is a growing expectation that he will be fit to play some part in the international against Chile at Friday, as he battles to overcome an ankle problem that has hampered his progress with Arsenal in recent weeks.
News that England skipper Steven Gerrard has joined Manchester United’s Michael Carrick in being ruled out of the Chile game may tempt England boss Roy Hodgson to hand Wilshere a start in the game at Wembley.