ENGLAND captain Steven Gerrard has tipped his midfield partner Jack Wilshere to become one of the world’s great players as they prepare to start an international match together for the first time tonight.
Gerrard and Wilshere are tasked with inspiring England to a first victory over Brazil since 1990 when the 2014 World Cup hosts visit Wembley for a prestige friendly to celebrate 150 years of the Football Association.
Wilshere, who has not started an England game since June 2011, has rediscovered top form for Arsenal since returning from a career-threatening ankle injury and impressed Liverpool skipper Gerrard when the sides collided last week.
“Jack’s got a bit of everything: he can tackle, pass, get up and down the pitch, create or score a goal. He ticks every box, and he’s going to get better and better. He’s only 21 and a fantastic talent, and we’re delighted he’s back,” said Gerrard.
“He has the potential to become one of the best in the world. I don’t want to put any pressure on him, but having played against him recently and seen him in training, he’s a one-off. He’s a lot better than your normal Premier League midfielder.”
England manager Roy Hodgson is expected to partner Wayne Rooney with Manchester United colleague Danny Welbeck in attack, despite trying Wilshere’s Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott as a striker in training.
Ashley Cole is inked in at left-back and poised to become only the seventh player to win 100 England caps, and insists he wants to play on despite clamour for Everton’s Leighton Baines to replace him.
“I’m proud, privileged and overwhelmed by how many times I have played for England, and I hope it doesn’t stop here,” said Cole.
“If there comes a time – and there will – when I am not first-choice left‑back, it won’t be a problem. I am not going to quit just because someone is playing better than me or deserves to play. “