England boss: Wilshere smoking is Arsenal's responsibility

Roy Hodgson will not advise young Gun over smoking incident unless urged to by Arsene Wenger.

Jack Wilshere's erratic form to date has been defended by England manager Roy Hodgson.

The versatile central player, 21, has played 495 minutes of Premier League football and has returned one goal, found the target with 50% of his shots, created nine chances, won all six of his attempted tackles and completed 88% of his passes.

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His statistical form appears strong, however, Wilshere's performances against Ukraine for England and, most recently, versus West Bromwich Albion for Arsenal, were questionable, despite the fan favourite restoring parity with a deflected second half strike for the Gunners in yesterday's 1-1 draw.

Speaking to AFP, Hodgson stated that Wilshere will remain in his own first-team plans: 'He's in an Arsenal team at the moment where the competition for places in midfield is very strong and will be even stronger when [Santi] Cazorla gets fit.

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'He's an important cog in our midfield thinking. I don't have any concerns for him. I believe in him, I think he's a very good player, and I'm hoping that he'll turn up [for international duty today] fully fit to play and then it'll be up to me to decide whether I want to put him in the starting line-up.'

Wilshere has been at the centre of a smoking storm over the weekend as the player was photographed with a cigarette. Headlines ranging from Jack the Lad to Smoking Gun began to dominate the sport's pages with Arsene Wenger allegedly warning the academy graduate over his off-pitch conduct.

'I trust Arsene to deal with that situation,' commented Hodgson, as Wenger, following the point gained against Albion, lauded Wilshere's strength of character to overcome the scandal and attract column-inches for the right reasons.

'He will make it clear, I'm sure, to Jack what his responsibilities are. I've had no problems of that nature with Jack, so I don't need to involve myself in it. Jack's an Arsenal player who also plays for England. If Arsene thinks it's also good for me to have a word with Jack I'll be more than happy to do so.

'But, as far as I'm concerned, it's Arsenal's responsibility.'

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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