• World Cup

Wilshere sees benefit of experience

ESPN staff
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Jack Wilshere replaces Steven Gerrard in England's warm-up match against Peru © Getty Images
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Jack Wilshere has cited England's senior players as crucial to their hopes of qualifying from Group D after defeat by Italy in their opening match last Saturday.

Much has been made of England's youthfulness in Brazil, but the Arsenal midfielder paid tribute to Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney before tonight's critical game against Uruguay.

"They've been great," said Wilshere. "I said at the beginning that we are going to need them. They've been there and they've done it.

"There are going to be situations like we're in now, where we've lost the first game, but they've had disappointing results in first games before and gone on to qualify. They're vital."

Wilshere praised Gerrard in particular, who was first awarded the captain's armband by Hodgson ahead of Euro 2012 and once again leads England in Brazil.

"The captain is fantastic," Wilshere said. "He leads by example on and off the pitch and is always there if you want to talk to him. He's just a great captain."

Victory in Sao Paolo tonight will take England within touching distance of the last 16, but Uruguay will be boosted by the return of Luis Suarez. The Liverpool striker has recovered from knee surgery as in contention for a starting role.

"They've got great players all around the pitch," said Wilshere. "But there is no denying that Suarez is a great player and a threat to us. They've got [Edinson] Cavani and [Diego] Forlan as well, but Suarez will be a problem if he plays.

"But we've got players who play against him in the Premier League every week, so we can deal with him.

"Thursday is a massive game for us - we don't want to be going home. We're now into week five away from home but we're a strong unit and hopefully we can carry it on."

Gerrard, 34, and Lampard, 35, spoke to the team after the Italy defeat to ensure that they reacted to the setback in the right way. Both were part of the so-called golden generation which failed to live up to expectations so often and they wanted to ensure the group of players making their names with England now did not suffer from the same, depressing experience.

Gerrard said: "It wasn't to scare any of the lads but a wake-up call to everyone - staff and players. I have had that feeling of going out of a major tournament. I know what that feeling is about and that is the feeling I don't want come Friday morning.

"That is the reality of where we are. We need everyone focused and right on it to perform individually and collectively on Thursday otherwise it will be a terrible, long summer.

"A lot of people in the dressing room already know that. But we have a few young lads and it was important for them to realise what is at stake and how important this game is. We all need to leave everything on that pitch. If a defeat was to happen it is probably the most difficult place to be as a footballer.

"There is no hiding place for a player when you go out of a tournament. You go home earlier than you expect. It can be tough as a player and it can take an awful long time to get over it."

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