By Matt Fortune
Jack Wilshere is a shining example that talent triumphs over both age and nationality at Arsenal.
In his 11 year spell with the Gunners, Arsène Wenger has, at times, been criticised for failing to develop English talent ripe for senior football. There is little evidence to bear this out and a glance at playing personnel in England’s top two divisions tells a very different story. James Harper, Ashley Cole, Stuart Taylor, Fabrice Muamba, Anthony Stokes, Jermaine Pennant, Jerome Thomas, Steven Sidwell, David Bentley to name a handful; all have made an impact in the Premier League after cutting their teeth with the Gunners.
This pre-season young Jack Wilshere has emerged, and, after his impressive early form, the 16-year old will wear the No 19 shirt recently vacated by Gilberto.
Reserve Team manager Neil Banfield, who has witnessed the growth of Wilshere since the Hertfordshire native joined the Club aged nine, is adamant the attack-minded midfielder can prosper in north London.
“If the young players work hard at their game, listen to the advice of the coaching staff, they realise they will have every opportunity here," Banfield told Arsenal.com. "The manager has always said he will play them if they are good enough, and he is true to his word; he always has been in every way. But the bar is extremely high and you have to be over it to get the opportunity.
“Jack was given the opportunity by the manager to go on the Austrian Training Camp, along with five others who have all done really well. Jack has taken his chance, and he is one of quite a few we have here that we have high hopes for.
“You have to adapt to the physical aspects of the game, and I think Jack is strong enough. It is about how you physically develop and I think with Jack, even at 16, it doesn’t mean he won’t be as physically strong as someone at 18 or even someone at 20.
“That has been the benefit of our Reserve team. The experienced players that our lads are up against means they learn on the pitch. The senior players then show them what to do while the game is going on. That is carried on for the young lads who learned so much in Austria.”Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 5 Aug 2008