EXCUSE the cliche, but can I suggest that Jack’s the lad for England in Russia next year?

For all the huge promise Gareth Southgate’s kids have shown against the two best sides in the world one thing is glaringly obvious. We are going to need real experience as well as potential in the World Cup finals, particularly in midfield.

So step forward Jack Wilshere, left out for whatever reason against Germany and Brazil, but the key player I believe could make a big difference when the real stuff starts next summer. If he can stay fit, that is.

We all know the injury problems he has had at Arsenal. We also know that even Arsene Wenger has had serious doubts about his long term future. But what is undeniable is that a fit Jack Wilshere is a midfield holder of the ball and playmaker all rolled into one.

The sort of player England didn’t have against the Brazilians for instance.

What these last two games have shown is that Southgate has a crop of youngsters to pick from with the sort of talent we haven’t seen for some time. Or, more significantly, have been given chances they haven’t had for some time.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s performance against Germany has catapulted him towards a World Cup squad place no one, never mind the lad himself, had probably dreamed of.

The same can certainly be said of Joe Gomez, whose almost faultless defensive performance against the likes of Neymar and his Anfield teammate Philippe Coutinho on Tuesday, had old stagers like me asking: Where the heck did he come from?

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But despite the kids making such an impressive impact, I for one was left wondering what might have been if  England had had a wise experienced head in midfield. Someone who could have threaded a defence splitting through ball to our only genuine world class performer, Marcus Rashford. Someone who could have halted the Brazilians in full flight and turned defence into attack at a stroke. Someone who could score a matchwinner as well.

Someone like Jack Wilshere, for instance.

Hopefully Mr Southgate will have seen that too and let Arsenal’s one time wonder boy know he hasn’t been forgotten. That Wilshere could still have a future alongside youngsters who might benefit so much from his experience. And that he could still be the winner he promised to be before injuries took their toll.

The England manager has justifiably been praised for his boldness in giving youth its head against Germany and Brazil. But hopefully he won’t let that go to his head as well, and recognise that not all his choices were good ones.

Without wishing to be unnecessarily unkind the selection of Jake Livermore in that key midfield role looks a flawed one. Unless Southgate knows something the rest of us don’t the West Brom player is an honest journeyman, definitely not an international playmaker.

His devotion to Jesse Lingard also appears a tad misplaced to all those except fans of Manchester United  – and, of course, the lad’s mum.

Football, as they say though, is all about opinions, and mine is that Southgate seems to be on the right track here.

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Trouble is, we’ve heard that a few times since 1966, haven’t we?


NICE to see Sir Mo Farah getting his knighthood from the Queen the other day – and richly deserved it was too. But am I the only bloke mystified at why one equally deserving case is consistently overlooked?

I don’t know who ultimately gets to decide these things, but David Beckham has been a great ambassador for football, for sport in general, and for his country, as well as being a fine role model as a father.

Maybe someone in the honours game feels a knight of the realm shouldn’t have those horrible tattoos Becks has disfigured his body with. But are they really any reason for not officially recognising what a truly great Briton he has been?

Wouldn’t it be heartwarming to see him recognised (remember that marvellous Olympics torch handover to Sir Michael Redgrave five years ago?) with a tap on the shoulder from Her Majesty next January saying: Arise Sir David?


IN a little over a week’s time we should have a better idea where that little urn with The Ashes in is going to end up. 

If England can become the first side to beat the Aussies in a Test at Brisbane in 29 attempts chances are it might ultimately be in the Lord’s trophy room. If they don’t it threatens to be a hard couple of months.

Whatever, I dearly hope Joe Root and co can do enough to stuff some of the words coming out from Down Under down those crowing Aussie throats.

I know rubbishing Poms is all part of the game in that part of the world, but the way they are going on you’d think they were top of the Test rankings league instead of fifth (two places below England) and just back from a walloping in India to boot.

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So come on boys, make us all proud and hit ’em back where it hurts. It’s just a pity that so few of the fans back home will see it live on the minority BT Sport channel.

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