Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has back Jack Wilshere to prove his doubters wrong this season and told him to ignore criticism about his game.
After bursting onto the scene with both Arsenal and the England national team in 2010, aged 18, Wilshere has endured on-going fitness problems over the past three seasons, including a stress fracture in his ankle which saw miss the whole of the 2011-12 campaign.
Questions about his behaviour on and off the pitch were further raised this summer, when the 22-year-old was pictured smoking again while on holiday after the World Cup, with some wondering whether his place in the Arsenal lineup was under threat for the new season.
However, after battling back from a troublesome hairline fracture to start all three games thus far, Wenger believes the midfielder just needs to concern himself with his own development and on his fitness.
‘Before he was in [Calum] Chambers' position, then suddenly when you get to 22, the expectation level comes on you,’ he told arsenal.com.
‘[Wayne] Rooney has gone through that, now it goes through Wilshere.
‘I believe at the moment he should not respond to it, just focus on his game.
‘If Wilshere can maintain to be fit physically, then he will make a huge career.
‘At the moment, I believe he should just focus on that - being fit, present and to improve physically. The rest will come along.
‘Yes [he needs to block everything else out], I told him the target is for him to have the whole season being available to play.’
Having been criticised by the likes of Tony Adams and Paul Scholes over the past six months, Wilshere is facing a decisive season at the Emirates, but Wenger is in no doubt about his character and will to succeed.
‘He is a guy who when he goes out there, he wants to play, he works hard, but he was out for one and a half years,’ Wenger added. ‘I think he is on target of where he should be.
‘He is not as far as everyone expected him to be from when he was 18, but he is not as far because he was injured, not because he doesn't train seriously.’