By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Jack Wilshere can be one of the world’s top players if he stays injury free, according to all-time great Xavi.
The serial-winning Spaniard is convinced the Arsenal midfielder has time to make the most of his vast potential for club and country.
Wilshere, who has not yet played this season after undergoing surgery on his fractured left fibula in September, has been cursed by injuries and is expected to be sidelined until the new year.
Xavi faced Wilshere during a titanic midfield battle when Barcelona and Arsenal locked horns in the Champions League and is in no doubt about the 23-year-old’s qualities.
“If he had a career that had been injury-free we would already be talking about him as one of the top central midfield players in Europe,” explained the Spain World Cup winner.
“I have played against him, I have watched him carefully, and if he can overcome injuries, then he can still go on an be one of the best midfield players in the world.”
Asked what makes Wilshere stand out, Xavi said: “With all respect, he doesn’t play the English way. He has an excellent passing range, an ability not to lose the ball, it is clear that he has had his education at Arsenal.
“For many years now the one position England have not struggled with is world-class midfield players. Scholes, and then more recently Lampard and Gerrard.
“Now I see Wilshere as the future of English football, that is why it is so important they keep him fit.”
Spain face England in a friendly in Alicante on Friday night and Wilshere is one of the visiting teams’ many absent players.
But Xavi, who joined Al Sadd in the Middle East after retiring from international football following last year’s World Cup, believes England have showed glimpses of improvement ahead of Euro 2016
“England have so much pace with Walcott and Sterling, that with the vision of Wilshere’s passing they can cause all teams a lot of problems, that’s how I see them setting up most effectively,” Xavi said.
“The coaches need to decide on their best team and formation, and the players don’t have many chances left now to fight for a place in the team.
“Yes, the game is a friendly, but with it being so close to the European Championship every game is so important now.”