Jack Wilshere has revealed that Arsene Wenger deliberately delayed his return to full first team training at the tail end of the season in an attempt to ensure the 22-year-old would be fully fit for the World Cup.
The midfielder sustained a fractured foot on England duty at the beginning of March and didn’t feature for the Gunners until an appearance off the bench against Norwich on the final day of the season and a cameo in the FA Cup final.
Admitting he was starting to panic about whether he’d be picked for Brazil due to a lack of game time, Wilshere told the Guardian that Wenger was insistent he build his core strength knowing time was on his side.
“I was panicking a bit about the squad, I wanted to be in it.
“I thought I was ready but he [Wenger] said: ‘No, you’re not. You need to train alone if you are to have a good World Cup. You need a good fitness base and to be right in every aspect.’
“That is what I am now.”
Recognising that he’s not assured a start when England touch down in South America, Wilshere stressed that his first concern was just to be on the plane.
“I just wanted to be here. I would have been devastated to have missed out and I knew the work I had to put in. If I got here, I could prove to the manager [Roy Hodgson] I’m ready. I’d like to think he saw enough of me throughout the season and knew what I could do if I was fit.
“Both Roy and Gary Neville got in contact during those six weeks, which was a big thing for me. The manager said I had time to get fit and to make sure I did and that we’d have chat then.”
England play friendlies against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras in the next two weeks before they kick-off their World Cup campaign against Italy on 14 June…plenty of time for Jack to get important minutes under his belt.