Jack Wilshere hopes to stub out smoking debate

Jack Wilshere addresses the media at the England team's St George's Park base yesterday. Picture: Getty
Jack Wilshere addresses the media at the England team's St George's Park base yesterday. Picture: Getty
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ENGLAND and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is hoping a line can now be drawn after he admitted making a mistake by smoking a cigarette.

The 21-year-old was photographed smoking outside a London nightclub in the early hours of Thursday morning as players wound down following Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Napoli, with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger later criticising the England international.

Despite the incident, Wilshere was recalled to Wenger’s starting line-up for Sunday’s 1-1 draw at West Brom and scored the equalising goal which took Arsenal back to the top of the Barclays Premier League table.

“I’ve learned that you’ve just got to concentrate on your football,” Wilshere told a press conference. “You’re a footballer at the end of the day and when it comes to the weekend you’ve got to be ready. Players and young people make mistakes and I made a mistake. I spoke to the boss [Wenger] and we sorted it out. He put me in the team on Sunday and hopefully I repaid him with a goal, so hopefully it’s all done now.”

While he has learned a lesson off the pitch, Wilshere, who has represented England at Under-16, Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 level as well as the senior team, says he still has a lot to learn from experienced team-mates Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

“As a young footballer I have grown up watching those two and you can learn things from both of them,” Wilshere said. “The way Steven Gerrard passes the ball, his range of passing and how he puts his foot in and the way Lampard gets forward and his goalscoring record speaks for itself so I can learn from both of them.”

Back-to-back victories against Montenegro on Friday and Poland next Tuesday will sweep England into next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil. Four points would also be enough if Ukraine fail to overcome Poland in Kiev on Friday, but anything less and England will find themselves in the play-offs or eliminated altogether.

However, that is not something Wilshere is contemplating and he is confident because of the strike force England has.

“We have got Sturridge and Rooney back which is going to be massive for us as you want your best players available,” he said. “Rickie Lambert has done a great job. He scored a couple and did well in Ukraine which was a difficult place to go and be up there on your own and do the job he did.

“We’ve got Defoe as well who can score from any position and Danny Welbeck, who is looking sharp. We have got a good mix there and it can only be helpful for us.”