Thursday, November 30, 2023

Wilshere and England medical staff foolish + Arsecast 307

Morning all.

The news that Jack Wilshere is to miss 6 weeks with a cracked bone in his foot is both unsurprising and supremely irritating. I said yesterday it wouldn’t be a shock if he discovered his injury was worse than suspected when he got back to Arsenal and that turned out to be the case.

There are people who are saying it’s not necessarily a bad thing because Jack hasn’t been playing that well lately. Fine, he can certainly play better, but at this point of the season losing a player who has played 31 games, scored 5 goals, and made 4 assists, is a blow. We’re not losing some fringe player here, but a first team regular.

It’s irritating because it happened in a meaningless friendly. I don’t really have any issue with Agger, it was a 50-50, both players went for it, Wilshere got hurt. It happens. What I do have an issue with is the fact that he played on.

I understand that, like many players, he’s competitive and eager to play. Nobody wants to come off just a few minutes into a game, but this wasn’t an important fixture for England and it was a game in which Wilshere had nothing to prove to Roy Hodgson or anyone else. Perhaps continuing didn’t do any more damage, but it’s certainly possible that playing for another 47 minutes with a cracked bone in his foot made the initial damage worse.

You have to look at the England medical team and ask why did they not err on the side of caution. Knowing the World Cup is not far away, and knowing fine well that Arsenal have a punishing end of season schedule, why did they not make a decision that, at worst, would make them look as if they had the players best interests at heart above everything else?

Of course they can’t see if he’s got a cracked bone from a cursory sideline examination, but they must know it’s a possibility. Instead, they chose to ignore that and have put Wilshere’s chances of going to Brazil at risk. If the damage was exacerbated, they’ve contributed to that. If it were a crucial, competitive game in which Wilshere’s presence was needed, you can understand it more, but a friendly that nobody gave one single shit about – what’s the point?

The other side of this though is Jack himself. He has to start listening to what his body is telling him. When things really hurt, they really hurt for good reason. It might have been just bruising, but the way he went down, and stayed down, was evidence enough that this was beyond the usual kicking he gets. He has a responsibility to himself to not play through that kind of pain for no good reason.

When he missed a whole season, it came after he’d been playing with an injury for a long time, and kept the extent of that hidden such was his desire to just play football. But he was younger, more eager to make a name for himself, and while there was a collective failure with regards to that injury, some of that has to fall on the player himself.

It’s difficult when you’re young to make those kind of decisions. Who amongst us, regardless of the level we play (or try to play) at hasn’t gone out on the pitch carrying a knock or a strain that we know better to put at risk? Sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don’t. Wilshere is one of those players who just wants to play all the time, I get that completely, but there comes a time when you have to add common sense to the mix.

As much as the England medical team should have hauled Wilshere off after a tackle which saw a stretcher being readied, Jack himself should have told them that for his own good it’d be better to make sure there was nothing seriously wrong and left the fray. I don’t think it would have affected his World Cup chances in any way, it’s clear that he’s part and parcel of Hodgson’s squad.

Perhaps the size of the crack in his bone doesn’t matter; maybe it’s 6 weeks regardless. But Jack has to step back and think about what’s best for him. Playing on, and risking doing more damage, is not it. Fingers crossed he recovers in time for the end of the season and so that he can go to the World Cup, it’d be a cruel blow if he were to miss out, and hopefully he can make a further contribution to our season before it closes too.

It’s also telling that when Arsenal made the announcement they made it clear this wasn’t a part of his body that had been injured before, which just highlights the need for him to take care of himself first and foremost. He’s the one who ultimately informs the physio how badly it hurts.

How badly this affects Arsenal is dependent on the fitness of Aaron Ramsey and, to a much lesser extent, Kim Kallstrom. I hope there’s no thought of rushing Ramsey back ahead of time, again that’s a risk we don’t need to take really, but we should get more from the manager on that at his pre-Everton press conference today.

Speaking of Aaron, have a look at this video. It’s an illustration of why this team has found it more and more difficult to achieve its early season form. There are a number of factors in that, obviously, but the absence of Ramsey, who contributed so much to get us to the top of the table, can’t be underestimated.

Tim Stillman looks at the season overall in his latest column, and if you were still in any doubt of the awesomeness of Per Mertesacker, check this out.

Now then, time for this week’s Arsecast. I’m joined by journalist Dan Levy to discuss the week that was, and by Everton writer Luke O’Farrell to look at the blues ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup clash. There’s a snippet from Andrei Arshavin, some interesting team news on the tannoy, and all the usual waffle and guff.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here 32mb MP3).

The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the SoundCloud app for iPhone and Android. You can now also find it on the Stitcher podcasting app for iOS and Android. Or, you can listen without leaving this page by using the player below.

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We’ll have all the latest from the press conference over on Arseblog News throughout the day, back here tomorrow with an FA Cup preview.

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