sport

Wilshere: I can handle the heat

Arsenal and England midfielder Jack Wilshere is confident he can handle the growing expectation levels placed on his young shoulders.

Wilshere has been showered with praise after returning to fitness following an horrific ankle injury, and turned in a man-of-the-match performance in the 2-1 win over Brazil at Wembley.

But he is quick to acknowledge the importance and influence on him of the likes of skipper Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the midfield department.

Wilshere said: "I don't think one play can ever win a World Cup for a nation. Listen, I've got great players around me.

"We've got Steven Gerrard, still one of the best midfielders in the world, and Lamps who came on and scored a great goal - and we've got good young players as well.

"There are going to be expectations and when you are playing well and you are in the national team, there are always going to be high expectations.

"But I think you have to deal with that."

Wilshere said: "It's great having Stevie and Lamps alongside me. I used to come to Wembley to watch them play, so to play with them now is a dream come true.

"It's testament to them that they keep doing it at their age.

"Ten years at the top is something I want to do, so looking at those two is something I look up to.

"Stevie is probably the fittest guy in the team and Lamps came on and got a great goal. He has been doing that for years, scoring important goals, and he keeps doing it."

Wilshere looked at home in a 4-3-3 formation and admits he prefers that to a 4-4-2 system.

He said: "I think the formation helped me against Brazil. I prefer to play in a three rather than a 4-4-2. A 4-3-3 system suits my game and suits the other players better.

"If we get that side right, we can dominate a midfield and we showed that against Brazil.

"We defend well and once we get the chance to go forward, we break really well and we've got the pace with Theo and Wayne upfront.

We work hard on tactics. That's what Roy Hodgson does, he is great at that. He gets us working well defensively and going forward."

Despite his tender years, it was easy to imagine Wilshere assuming the captain's armband one day, which he has already worn for Arsenal.

Yet even when current incumbent Gerrard steps aside, there are others with claims on the role, specifically Rooney, but also Joe Hart, Gary Cahill and even Phil Jones, who has previously been spoken of as skipper material.

And Hodgson, whose contract does not expire until 2016, believes Wilshere will have to be patient.

"I am not bothered about it," said Hodgson. "He is only 21.

"At the moment there are quite a few senior players who are going to be around for a few years to come so he might struggle to knock them off their perch."