ALL JIBES aside, the loan deal that takes Jack Wilshere, once the great young hope of English football, from Arsenal to Bournemouth, is a huge moment in the career of the injury-prone midfielder.
It’s significant because when you get jettisoned – albeit temporarily – from a Champions League mainstay, you know you’re in danger of slipping off the radar screen.
Wilshere, sadly, looks as though he’s going to be another unfulfilled talent, but there is still time to turn it around. The past two seasons have been virtual write-offs for the Stevenage-born player, although at the same time, when he did manage to play, he showed what he’s capable of with two fine goals against Slovenia.
But look at Wilshere’s appearance record and there are huge question marks. Since 2010, he has made 101 Premier appearances for Arsenal, 142 in all, and 34 for England. That’s an incredible ratio, which highlights a couple of things – firstly, England need him more than Arsenal and secondly, he’s usually fitter in summer, possibly?
He’s been desperately unlucky, although Brian Glanville highlighted a year or two ago that Wilshere’s “scrappy do” style was setting him up to get injured. Glanville has seen a few players in his time, so he knows what he’s talking about here.
Can Wilshere be reborn in Bournemouth? Obviously, he has to stay fit and given Arsenal’s apparent penchant for busy treatment rooms, he has the chance to free himself of legacy issues. He’s also likely to benefit from being a bigger fish in a smaller pond and the chances are, it’s going to be a case of “give it Jack”. He may flourish away from the spotlight – this is a player that, because of the dearth of talent coming through the England system, has had to shoulder the aspirations of a nation in the post-Beckham era. If he stays free of injury and negative publicity, Bournemouth can launch a renaissance.
England cannot afford to let promise go astray. Sam Allardyce’s squad is not deep or shiny enough to discount a player who has been described as having something of a “Spanish attitude”. It won’t only be Arsene Wenger that looks for regular bulletins from the south coast.