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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Sep 14, 2013

Wenger: Wilshere can handle pressure

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has backed Jack Wilshere to rise above the lofty expectations to succeed at an international level and lead England's charge to the World Cup. 

Steven Gerrard has backed Jack Wilshere as a future England captain.
Wenger believes Wilshere can become England's leader.

Wilshere has often been criticised for his role in the national team, given he made his debut three years ago.

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The midfielder was once again the subject of conjecture following his performance in Tuesday's stalemate against Ukraine, but his Gunners manager believes the scrutiny is unjustified.

Wenger has compared Wilshere's influence to that of Zinedine Zidane in the French team and is confident the 21-year-old will be a key member of the Three Lions for next year's tournament in Brazil.

"If Jack Wilshere has the same game at Arsenal we just say 'okay, today he was not at his best' - but when he has that game in the national team, suddenly everyone questions your ability," Wenger said. "The players find it a bit more difficult to handle (things) in the national team with that kind of mental pressure which comes from everybody.

"National teams need always a guy who absorbs this type of pressure and takes it, we (France) had Zidane - when the France team played well it was all Zidane, but (that meant) the others could (just) play. You need a good generation, but, as well, also need one player. 

"Be positive. Jack can take that (role). He is young, only 22. He has the capacity to do that, but he needs to play six months without any problem."

Wilshere has had a number of injury setbacks during his career and Wenger insists he has not yet reached his peak.

"Jack has the personality to be a top, top, top player," Wenger added. "He has gone through a difficult period. The problem in the modern game, you need to be absolutely 100 % physically (fit) to express your talent, or you don't.

"At the moment Jack is not completely at his best physically, that is why people start to question his performances, but I think he is a fantastic footballer and he will show that. He (just) needs consistency now."

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