Gareth Southgate has suggested Jack Wilshere can nail down a regular starting berth due to his technical quality, but warned Joe Hart faces a fight for his England place.
Arsenal midfielder Wilshere has not played for the national team since England were humiliated by Iceland at Euro 2016, but has earned a recall after fighting his way back into the Gunners’ starting XI.
Wilshere is joined in the team by Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook, who is one of four uncapped players alongside Burnley duo Nick Pope and James Tarkowski and Swansea City’s Alfie Mawson.
And Southgate earmarked Wilshere as a player that can be crucial to the kind of football he wants the Three Lions to play.
“Jack’s a player that has unquestionable talent. The key for me is that he is playing in the games that matter for Arsenal,” Southgate told a news conference.
“He’s getting closer to where we want him. His technical ability in the middle of the park will be very useful.
“That’s why Lewis Cook has been called up, too. He’s comfortable picking the ball up anywhere and we want to play through the midfield.”
— England (@England) March 15, 2018
Pope is one of the goalkeepers that will hope to make their mark in England’s upcoming friendlies against Netherlands and Italy, with long-term number one Hart retained in the squad despite his limited playing time and indifferent form for West Ham.
Stoke City’s Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford of Everton are also options between the posts, and Southgate conceded that Hart’s position is no longer secure as he runs the rule over his squad with the World Cup in Russia on the horizon.
“Clearly the number one jersey is up for grabs,” he added.
“Joe has had a difficult period with his club and he had to miss out on selection a few times when David Moyes came in.
“He’s got a great number of caps and he’s the most experienced keeper in our squad so we wanted to keep him around
“With Nick Pope his form has been excellent. It’s great credit to Sean Dyche that we have got three Burnley players in our squad.
“We need to find out a bit more about them because if we lose one of our more experienced players then we will need them to fill the void, but Nick’s form has warranted his place in the squad.”
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