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Wilshere's Predicament Could Change England for the Better

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With England's Next Big Thing injured for at least six weeks, it's time for Roy Hodgson to think outside of the box-to-box

Coincidentally, three of the four people I wrote about are in this picture. Fancy that!
Coincidentally, three of the four people I wrote about are in this picture. Fancy that!
Shaun Botterill

Jack Wilshere giveth, and Jack Wilshere's ankle taketh away. News that England's anointed creative spark is ruled out for a long stretch of time - Arsenal's medical department reckons the lay-off will be around six weeks, but similar issues have kept him out for enormous swaths of the season in the past - was surely met with much hand-wringing in the corridors at Wembley as, just 96 (!) days before the World Cup kicks off, one of their key players faces a race against his biggest enemy. But fear not, for while Wilshere may see his World Cup dream in danger, for others the flame might just have rekindled.

Take Ross Barkley, for example. Having tailed off in terms of production in recent weeks - due partly, in fairness, to injury - Barkley was still called up to the side and, despite England's rather meh performance, we saw James Milner enter the side instead of the young Evertonian. Always a long shot to nail down a World Cup spot, Barkley's stock has jumped immensely with Wilshere's misfortune; I'd say a roster spot is his to lose at this point, provided he can up his performance levels at club tier to pre-injury highs.

Another beneficiary is one of Chelsea's centurions, Frank Lampard. Despite being the club's record scorer, "Lamps" has seen his playing time curtailed under new/old manager Jose Mourinho - completely understandable given his age - but has the uncanny ability to pop up with a vintage performance that age hasn't tempered. Another long shot for Brazil who didn't play against Denmark, Lampard would be an interesting choice for Hodgson should he opt for experience over Barkley's raw potential, especially given his historic troubles when operating alongside Steven Gerrard. Still, I would say Wilshere's injury has erased any doubt of Lampard being on the plane to Brazil.

The last player who seeks to benefit from Wilshere's injury is noted Three Lions Roar favourite Adam Lallana. Impressive performances at club level and in his limited international play have practically paved the way to a seat on the plane and this news simply updates his status to first class. An excellent sub showing against Denmark further pushes his credentials to "can't ignore" status. While by no means a central midfielder, what Lallana brings is the spark, the sense of purpose and drive that is arguably Wilshere's strongest contribution to the side. Should he keep up his form, Southampton's captain could very well be England's x-factor this summer.

At the end of the day, we want the best English players on the field in Brazil, and hopefully Wilshere will be fit enough to get the results we so desperately crave but, should he fail, I have no doubt that Barkley, Lampard and Lallana can, individually or as part of the team, replicate Wilshere's presence. Let's just hope Roy Hodgson doesn't go for a Milner-Cleverley midfield.