Belfast Telegraph

Wenger backs Wilshere

Arsene Wenger believes Jack Wilshere has what it takes to follow Theo Walcott into the England team - but called for patience from the Arsenal youngster ahead of what could be a breakthrough season.

Walcott - a controversial omission from the ill-fated World Cup squad - and 18-year-old Wilshere are both expected to feature in the forthcoming European Championship qualifying campaign as Fabio Capello looks to rebuild a squad for the future following the Three Lions' abject display in South Africa.

And Wenger believes Wilshere - who was loaned to Bolton last season - can cut the grade at the very highest level, saying; "Theo Walcott was at the World Cup at 17 years of age; he had not played one game in the Premier League, and it didn't kill him."

He added: "In 2012, Jack will be 20, so why not? You cannot rule it out, but it is down to performances.

"I believe Jack is stronger than last year, physically, and the few months he played at Bolton has given him something.

"He will be used at the club, of course."

But Wenger added: "The problems at that age is to be patient; you don't have patience.

"If you look at the number of good players we have in midfield, nobody can guarantee a position to anybody."

Another of Arsenal's youngsters to impress was Emmanuel Frimpong, the Ghanaian-born 18-year-old who has represented England at Under-16 level, having moved to London when he was nine.

"He's a bit less of a dribbler, but he's a fighter and a winner," said Wenger. "Here you have a boy who can choose between England and Ghana. So if I was in your place, I would have no hesitation, and invite him to play very quickly for England."

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