6 September 2014 03:07
Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere said “it is time to deliver” after years of unfulfilled talent.
Wilshere burst onto the scene in 2008 but injuries have curtailed his development, with the 22-year-old managing just 88 Premier League appearances in that period.
The 2013-14 season was no different for Wilshere, who suffered a foot injury in an international friendly against Denmark in March that hampered his preparation for the World Cup in Brazil.
Wilshere’s off-field behaviour has also been brought into question after he was pictured smoking for a second time during his pre-season holiday in Las Vegas this year.
Speaking ahead of Monday’s opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley, Wilshere conceded he has to start performing consistently.
“There’s no point in me saying ‘I’ve got another year to develop’,” said Wilshere.
“I’m 22 now. Look at Germany. Mario Gotze won the World Cup for Germany and he’s 22, he’s my age. It is time to deliver.
“It is an important season for me, a big season, not just for my country but my club as well.
“I’ve had a good pre-season, the first time in three or four years where I’ve managed to do every single session.
“I’ve stayed away from injury, trained here every day. I’m fit and in the gym. It’s a big season for me.”
Wilshere also hit back at former England international Jamie Redknapp, who criticised the Arsenal midfielder for not performing.
Redknapp – a pundit for Sky Sports – said: “He has got to do better. He has to take games by the scruff of the neck.
“There are no excuses for this young man any more. It’s nothing to do with smoking. I played with better players than him who smoked. He has got to do better on the pitch.”
And Wilshere reacted angrily to Redknapp’s comments: “He was injured just as much as I was. Maybe more than I was. He was never injured at my age and it does take a lot of mental strength.
“So to hear people go on TV and say: ‘He’s got to be doing this or that’. I don’t need that.
“It disappoints me. It’s easy to go on TV and say: ‘He’s got to do this or that’ or ‘if he’s not fit, he’s not in the starting line-up and he’s got to get fitter’.
“That’s the easy way out. I’ll take criticism. I know that’s part and parcel of football. But when it’s just reckless and aggressive, I don’t listen.”