Wednesday, February 6, 2013
England and Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard believes Jack Wilshere has the potential to become one of the best players in the world but warned “one man can’t carry a nation.”
Gerrard wants expectation levels surrounding Wilshere to be held in check if he makes his first England start for 17 months in tonight’s friendly with Brazil at Wembley.
He is aware Wilshere is being viewed as the great saviour who will provide the spark to lead England towards the trophy glory that has eluded them since the 1966 World Cup.
But Gerrard feels it is crucial not to put too much pressure on Wilshere who has impressed with Arsenal since returning from his long lay-off with an ankle problem.
Gerrard said: “Jack has got a bit of everything. He can tackle, get up and down the pitch, create a goal, score a goal, can pass. He can tick almost every box, and he’s going to get better and better.
“He’s only 21 and a fantastic talent. We’re all delighted he’s back and happy to play with him.
“I think he’s got the potential to become one of the best in the world - and I don’t want to add any pressure. That’s unfair.
“But playing against him recently and in training, he’s a one-off. He’s a lot better than your normal Premier League midfielder. I have a lot of confidence in him.
“He’ll get better than he is now which is a scary thought. I hope he brings out the best in all of us.
“He’s a top player and I hope he gives the dressing room a lift. We need competition for places if we’re going to get to Brazil.”
But Gerrard stressed: “I think it’s vital we don’t all put too much pressure on Jack and that there’s not too much expectation. One man can’t carry a nation on his own. He needs other players to help.
“He looks as if he can cope with the pressure. You’ve still got the likes of (Wayne) Rooney, (Frank) Lampard and (Ashley) Cole, other top players in the group, and we’ll share the responsibility out.
“It’s up to us to put our arms round him and make sure you lot (the media) don’t put too much pressure on him.
“He needs other players to help. I can only tell him to try and keep his feet on the ground and try and enjoy it.
“His career will be full of ups and downs, and I think he has the mentality to handle it.”
Gerrard knows there is strong competition for places in midfield but will fight to keep his spot in the side.
He said: “As far as my shirt’s concerned, it’s not just Jack who’s after my shirt. There are the Under-21 players, Michael Carrick and Scott Parker. They all want my shirt.
“But I have to make sure I keep performing. I’m prepared to fight with anyone in this country to keep my shirt.”