Arsenal teen Wilshere aims to follow in the footsteps of Fabregas
When Arsenal's Jack Wilshere joined the senior England squad for the friendly against Hungary last month there were a few players who were struck by his confidence.
He did not behave like an 18-year-old who was just glad to be there; he looked like an 18-year-old who thought this was exactly where he belonged.
There has been a buzz about the boy from Hitchin in Hertfordshire since he was only 14, so much that his gradual emergence into the first team this season at such a young age has not seemed like a surprise.
Today against Sunderland, with the furore over Arsene Wenger's claims that Arsenal are victimised by less talented teams, the pressure will be on.
These are the kind of games Arsenal have lost in the past — indeed, they went down 1-0 at the Stadium of Light last season — and if they do so it will take the wind out of a great start to the season. Wilshere is not guaranteed a start but he is entitled to one having played a key role in the 6-0 win over Braga on Wednesday night.
After that game he talked about the benefits of playing alongside Cesc Fabregas, the player whom he is evidently being groomed to succeed when, barring a miracle, Fabregas goes back to his former club Barcelona one day.
“For me, in the position he plays, he is the best player in the world,” he said of the Arsenal captain. “That shows with all the interest from the clubs who want him and people talking about him. That is what I want to be like.
“He is always talking to you — he is a good leader as well as a good player. I think he looks at the fact we both started young in the first team as well and see he did the same as me.
“Playing alongside him is an experience that a player of 33 may not have had in his whole career. So at 18 it is a bonus and to play with people like Cesc and Alex [Song] makes it easy for you.”
Owen Coyle took Wilshere on loan at Bolton last season where he played 14 games.
It would be an easy assumption to make that Wilshere struggled outside the rarefied atmosphere of Arsenal but that was not the case.
“I think I had to go out on loan last year because there are world-class players at Arsenal and I had to get some games,” Wilshere said. “I came back more experienced and stronger and if you play regularly it makes it makes it easier.”
Wilshere was arrested last month in relation to an alleged assault which took place outside the west London building that is home to The Independent and the Daily Mail — in full view of the CCTV cameras.
As mistakes go the fact he has not been charged suggests it was not a big one but it will be interesting to see, having had this lesson, whether it is his last or the first of many.
These are early days yet — he said Fabregas had told him that he needed to be patient: “He [Fabregas] tells me I am not going to play every week, like he did, and that have I got to break through slowly then get hopefully get in.”
That sounds like good advice.