LONDON (Reuters) - Jack Wilshere will play no part in England’s friendly against the Netherlands on Friday because of a knee injury but could be fit to face Italy next week, manager Gareth Southgate said.
The 26-year-old Arsenal midfielder earned his last cap in England’s defeat by Iceland at Euro 2016 but has impressed for his club this season after a spell on loan at Bournemouth.
Wilshere has not travelled to Amsterdam.
“It is not a specific injury and over time they flare up and they need to settle down over a couple of days,” Southgate told reporters on Thursday.
“We are hopeful it will settle down pretty quickly. It’s an ongoing problem and it’s not something new for him. He’s very disappointed not to be involved in the game.
“He’s trained well but if you think about the journey he’s had in the last two years and his big injuries then he’s progressing really well.”
Wilshere, who has 34 caps, has been plagued by ankle injuries during his career.
England’s midfield — in which Jordan Henderson has been chosen to captain the side — is not the only area that will be concerning Southgate in the build-up to the World Cup.
England’s most experienced goalkeeper Joe Hart has struggled for form and first-team club football and Southgate has selected Everton’s Jordan Pickford to start against the Dutch, with Stoke City’s Jack Butland and Burnley’s Nick Pope also in reserve.
“Jordan Pickford will play in goal tomorrow night,” Southgate said. “He is a very agile goalkeeper, quick around his goals, he is capable of making big saves, his distribution is excellent - a really outstanding distributor of the ball with his feet which is how we want to play.
“It is a great opportunity for him. He played really well against Germany in November and it’s a good chance for us to see him in another international game.”
Southgate has not yet decided who will start in goal at the World Cup in Russia, which starts in June.
“I know who it would be if we played tomorrow but I think we’ve still got plenty of football to be played,” he said.
“It is a very tight call at the moment because there are four guys in the squad who have justifiable claims for different reasons.”
Southgate was inevitably asked about the security fears for England’s travelling fans in Russia this summer in the light of the diplomatic tension between the two countries.
“If I were a fan, I would (go to Russia),” he said. “I have spent some time in Russia and felt incredibly comfortable there.
“But, for every individual, it is up to them what they want to do”.
Government ministers and members of the Royal Family will not attend the tournament which starts on June 14.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of being involved in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a nerve agent in Salisbury this month. Russia denies being involved.
Southgate is expecting the focus to be on football, not politics, once the tournament starts.
“I was in Russia last year for the Confederations Cup and there were about 15,000 fans from Chile,” he said.
“There was an incredible atmosphere in the stadiums. It felt like the other World Cups I’d been to.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman and Ken Ferris, editing by Ed Osmond/Peter Rutherford