Fabio Capello has claimed Jack Wilshere is the most exciting young midfielder he has ever seen and thinks he will one day captain his country.
Wilshere will be handed a midfield role in next week's Euro 2012 qualifier with Wales at the Millennium Stadium, despite just one England start and only two caps to his name and Capello spoke of his faith in the 19-year-old.
"I remember two defenders, Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi, and one attacker, Raul, who was 19 at Real Madrid, but for personality and confidence on the pitch, he is the best young midfielder I have seen for his age," said Capello. ''He will be England captain one day. He needs more caps but he is a real leader.''
By his own admission, Capello was uncertain whether Wilshere was ready when he handed the teenager a seven-minute debut against Hungary in August. However, in last month's friendly against Denmark and Arsenal's recent two-legged Champions League encounter with Barcelona, Wilshere proved beyond any doubt he is the real deal.
''It is incredible,'' admitted Capello. ''In this last seven months, he improved a lot. After that very first game I was not sure because he didn't play with a lot of confidence and following the Denmark game, some people were surprised when I said I was really happy with his performance.
''But he played with confidence and without fear. He tried to do the same things he usually does when he plays for Arsenal. And everyone can understand his value after the games against Barcelona.
''I followed him. I monitored him during the game in Barcelona. Against the most difficult team, one of the best teams of all, he played the same game, with the same confidence that he did in the first leg in London. Then Arsenal won. The second time it was more difficult.''
Meanwhile, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is surprised that Capello has not called upon in-form duo Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan.
Pardew told the Evening Chronicle: "I'm certainly surprised Kevin has never been involved because of what he is. The problem with England is they are always thinking of building a team, and I absolutely disagree with that. For me, it's about picking your best 11 players.
"If that's the case, Kevin and Joey deserved to be involved. There's nothing to build with the England national team. Every game is massive, including the next one, and you have got to play your best team. On that basis, I'm surprised Kevin and Joey haven't been involved.''