By Declan Taylor

Steve Bould believes that Jack Wilshere’s burgeoning reputation will guarantee the 17-year-old ‘special treatment’ from opposing teams.

Wilshere played 90 minutes for the Under-18s on Tuesday night in the ‘Bergkamp role’ - a position Arsène Wenger expects him to fill in the long-term - and was man-marked throughout the first half by Wolves’ Paul McCone.

Despite this, the teenager was able to dictate large periods of the game and played a key role in Arsenal’s second goal in the 3-0 victory.

Bould was not surprised by the visitors’ stifling tactics and is certain that learning to deal with them at such an early stage in his development will help Wilshere in the long run.

“The first half they man-marked him and made it very difficult,” admitted the Under-18s manager. “The No 4 followed him everywhere and that’s probably a new regime for any English player - that just doesn’t happen anymore. It is great for him and his development.

“I thought the last 20 minutes of the first half he really started to come into the game and then when Wolves changed their system in the second half I thought he was getting the ball in good areas and he looked dangerous all night.”

Wilshere has been almost ever-present in Wenger’s first-team squads since September, enjoying a handful of cameo appearances in the process. In Bould’s opinion, games in his own age group could become a vital supplement to his overall progression.

“It is great when we have him as I think he needs some games because he doesn’t get a lot of minutes,” said Bould. “I think the games programme at the moment will suit him. We hope that the gaffer will develop him and he’s going to play in the first team.

“I’m given him in these games. He has made that step-up to the first team and he trains with them every day. He was with us yesterday and it’s the first time I’ve had him but that is the way we want it for him.

“He’s developing with the gaffer and he knows what he can do; he’ll play him when he’s ready."

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14 Jan 2009