Roy Hodgson has all-but assured Jack Wilshere of a place in England’s European Championships squad despite the fact he has yet to play for Arsenal this season.
The 24-year-old midfielder has been sidelined since breaking his fibula on the eve of the current campaign, the latest in a long list of injury problems he has had to contend with.
Following a squad get-together at St George’s Park in February, Hodgson has two friendlies – against Germany and Holland – this month before he must name his squad for the finals.
Wilshere is not likely be involved in the double-header as he continues his comeback – although Gunners’ manager Arsene Wenger expects him to be fit in the next three to four weeks.
Hodgson said a lack of game time does not mean he would opt against calling up the 28-cap player, having never understood why it is believed players need to have played a certain number of games before being considered fit or not.
He likened Wilshere’s situation to that of Tottenham double-winning defender Dave Mackay – who overcame a twice-broken left leg to remain an important member of the successful Spurs side of the late 1960s.
“Dave Mackay came back from two broken legs,” Hodgson said when asked if he is concerned that Wilshere has not played this season.
“The first one he came back almost immediately after his leg was healed and played a game, and then he broke it again but played again as soon as it healed again.
“I don’t know why we should be quite as protective as all that. Players are either fit to play or not. Whether they play 30 games, 40 games, ten games, 15 games, eight games, I don’t understand that.
“For me it’s all about the class of the player. It’s about who is in form and out of form. Even to some extent I have to rely on others’ judgement on that.
“Form is transient, but class isn’t. We need classy players and players we can trust and players we know what they will give us and players who have the desire, motivation and wish to play for England, to do all that’s necessary.
“Luckily we have some of those. But let’s be realistic, we are not in the 60, 70 and 80s when it comes to those. If there are 30 players who reach the high standards I demand we will have to pick 23 from them.”
Meanwhile, Luke Shaw is still being looked at by Hodgson, who hopes the Manchester United defender can recover to take his place in the squad.
The 20-year-old left-back suffered a double fracture from a heavy challenge in a Champions League defeat at PSV Eindhoven in September and is still on the long road to recovery.
Shaw has been named in United’s Europa League squad in the hope he can play in the latter stages of the competition if the Red Devils advance, but his chances of going to the Euros appeared to be dashed when he was not included in an England squad get together at St George’s Park in February.
While other injured players such as Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck, who has since returned to fitness for Arsenal, were invited along, Shaw was not a part of the meeting.
“We are still monitoring Luke Shaw,” the England boss added.
“He is making good progress, But we have to accept in March (friendlies against Germany and Holland) we won’t have those players, but hopefully in May, when I have to make a decision, they will be available for selection.”