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Wilshere can star for England, says Hodgson

ESPN staff
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Roy Hodgson has backed Jack Wilshere to put his fitness problems behind him and play a key role in England's upcoming Euro 2016 qualification campaign.

Wishere's progress in recent seasons has been blighted by injury, with many questioning whether the 22-year-old will ever fulfill his potential.

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He has impressed when called upon for Arsenal this season, and Hodgson is confident the midfielder can hold down a place in his England side following the international retirements of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

"He is a player who has been on the radar for a long time, and has been unlucky with injury," Hodgson told the FA's official website.

"He broke onto the scene long before I came along, but of course, when I came along he wasn't available because of the long-term injuries.

"We got a chance to briefly see him before he got injured again, so it's probably only been the last six months or so, leading up to the World Cup, where he's become a feature and someone who could fit the bill for the midfield.

"It's been very encouraging for me to see him playing pain free and without any fitness issues, and even more encouraging to see him playing well, as I think he was against Besiktas in the midfield.

"It leads you to hope and believe he could do the same thing in an England shirt."

Wilshere, who has already won 20 caps, was named in the England squad for the upcoming friendly against Norway and the Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland.

And Hodgson is confident his youthful squad selection - which boasts an average age of 25 - has what it takes to qualify for a major international tournament.

"We have high hopes of people like Jack, but I don't think he'll have to shoulder the responsibility alone - there are others," Hodgson said.

"On this particular occasion we don't have [Adam] Lallana and [Ross] Barkley, but they are on the rise. Walcott is about to return, so I would like to think there are a number of players.

"This is a new group of players in certain respects, they'll have to take responsibility now."

Jack Wilshere could replace Steven Gerrard in England's first-choice midfield © Getty Images
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