Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Wilshere up and running as England grind it out

Denmark 1 England 2: Fabio Capello declared himself satisfied with Jack Wilshere's first England start — but refused to confirm whether the 19-year-old would keep his place for next month's Euro 2012 qualifier with Wales.

Although Wilshere did not look entirely comfortable in the midfield holding role Capello had given him, and was at times put in the shade by Denmark's own wonderkid Christian Eriksen, the Arsenal starlet was confident in possession and always kept trying to go forward in England's 2-1 win in Copenhagen last night.

His second international appearance only lasted 45 minutes as Capello gave Wilshere a rest with Arsenal's crucial Champions League encounter with Barcelona in mind.

Now the England boss must decide whether a third appearance will come at the Millennium Stadium on March 26.

“It is too early to decide about Wales now,” said Capello.

“He played well. It was not easy in the first half because Denmark pressed and ran a lot, but Jack played with a lot of confidence.

“I am happy with that performance. But now have to wait for a month because all the players have some really important games, not only in the Premier League but in the Champions League too.”

If Capello is not going to confirm his starting plans, fitness permitting, Wilshere's place in the 23-man squad for Cardiff is guaranteed.

The same could also be said of Aston Villa pair Darren Bent and Ashley Young, whose goals secured a first win in Scandinavia since 1992 after England had fallen behind to a seventh-minute Daniel Agger header.

For Bent, it was further proof that he can replicate his impressive domestic goals record at international level, while Young revelled in the space just behind his new team-mate, something Wayne Rooney had not done in the opening period.

“In this position Young is really good because he is free,” said Capello. “He can run where he wants.

“He has to defend as well but he is really fast, technically good, and dangerous for the opponents.”

It undoubtedly raises a question over whether Capello would contemplate selecting Young ahead of Rooney, even if the Italian is not posing it just yet.

“No,” he replied. “In the future I have players, like Rooney, like Bent, like Carroll, like Defoe, like Crouch. I have to decide which one plays depending on what form they are in.”

Until he suffered the first of his ankle injuries in Munich last March, Rooney's form was never really a subject for debate.

That is not true now, mainly because Capello feels he has far more options than he previously had at his disposal.

He said: “There is big competition now and it is not easy for me to choose.

“There are some new players. Andy Carroll is a new player. Jack Wilshere is a new player. Theo Walcott is back.

“I saw the spirit of the team, and that is really important for us.”

Those who had not heard of him already also saw an outstanding performance from Eriksen, who dominated the first half and produced a couple of exceptional pieces of skill after the interval even though he, like his team, tired.

“They are two good players,” said Denmark coach Morten Olsen when asked to compare the merits of Wilshere and Eriksen.

“They are two different kind of player. Wilshere is more a defensive player.”

Ashley Young believes England showed their “strength of character” by coming from a goal down to win.

Young, who registered his first goal for Capello's side, believes the result stands them in good stead ahead of the resumption of Euro 2012 qualifying next month.

He said: “I am delighted to have got the winner, with it being my first goal it's even more special.

“Fingers crossed, as long as I can keep getting in the squad and getting chances I can establish myself in the team.

“We all really want to wear the shirt and give our all and we showed the strength of character we have to get back in the game.”

Wilshere too was delighted to have been given the chance in a defensive role.

“It's great to play for your country and I am delighted with my first start and I'm glad it was a win,” he said.

“It was a difficult game but we kept the ball well and it's great to play with players like that — they make it easy.

“Not going forward was tough but it's quite similar to the role I play at Arsenal and I will play anywhere for my country,” he explained.

Meanwhile a contented Capello added: “I am happy with the result and the performance of some players.

“Wilshere in the first half played with confidence and it was an interesting debut,” he said.

“Bent played well and worked hard to help the team.

“It's a different position to where he plays for Aston Villa and he scored a goal and had chances for a second.”

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