• Premier League

Wenger: Sky is the limit for Wilshere

ESPN staff
February 8, 2013
Jack Wilshere has hit form after injury for Arsenal © PA Photos

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed 'there is no limit' to the heights Jack Wilshere can reach in his career after his sparkling performance against Brazil on Wednesday night, but he fears burnout could become an issue for his 21-year-old.

Wenger hinted that he was disappointed to see Wilshere play the full 90 minutes of the game at Wembley and suggested England manager Roy Hodgson has a role to play in ensuring a player who looks certain to be crucial to his World Cup hopes next year is not given too big a workload.

"It is not just the physical aspect of the game, but also the mental pressure he will be under every time he plays," stated Wenger. "We will have to manage him well physically to make sure he doesn't have to face burnout.

"I expected Jack to play only a part of the game on Wednesday night, but it didn't happen. Because of his quality, he will be exposed to that kind of issue, but will have to be managed like everyone else.

"I believe that you do not want to set any limit on the development of any player especially when he plays at that level at his age. The most important thing for me will be to keep his passion for the game and keep the attitude of wanting to become a better player. If he keeps those two ingredients, he can of course become a fantastic player."

Wenger confirmed he could see the potential in Wilshere when he first set eyes on the midfielder five years ago and he is not surprised by the speed of his progress to the pinnacle of the game.

"As a very young boy you could see he had a special talent, but when you see a boy of 16-years-of-age, you never know how he will develop," he added. "He is starting is career now really, having been out for 17 months injured, so the influence he has on the English national team is fantastic.

"Let's just hope that he has no injury problems anymore and the rest he can handle. His feet are on the ground, he loves football, he loves to improve and that is great for England."

Meanwhile Wenger has confirmed he is facing up to a defensive crisis ahead of Saturday's trip to Sunderland, with skipper Thomas Vermaelen ruled out through injury and his central defensive colleague Laurent Koscielny a major doubt after picking up a knock playing for France on Wednesday night.

With Kieran Gibbs also in the treatment room, Wenger has hinted that he may play Bacary Sagna at the heart of his defence against a Sunderland side he believes pose a major threat to his side's ambitions.

"Sunderland have good offensive potential, but we have to make up ground in this game," added Wenger. "We are behind and we have to focus on us to win games. The gap is not too big."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.