How should England set up their midfield without Jack Wilshere?

The Arsenal midfielder was the driving force behind England's recent friendly win over Brazil, but another injury means that Roy Hodgson will be without Wilshere for two World Cup Qualifiers this month.

On the face of it, trips to San Marino and then Montenegro do not appear to be something that England should be particularly afraid of, but their recent displays in World Cup qualification matches have been dire, and the match against Montenegro could be vital in deciding which team finishes top of their group.

There were encouraging signs in the victory over Brazil, where even though the visitors missed some clear chances, England were largely the better side over the 90 minutes. However one of the main reasons for that was Jack Wilshere's excellent display, and the Arsenal man will not be available for the matches this month due to yet another injury.

In that match Wilshere lined up alongside Steven Gerrard and Tom Cleverley in the middle, and those two players will likely start both upcoming matches. However the system used relied on the mobility of Wilshere and Cleverley both going forward and in defence, and the two main candidates to come into the team cannot offer similar attributes.

Having come on for Cleverley to score the winner against Brazil Frank Lampard will feel that he is the man to start against San Marino and Montenegro, but Michael Carrick might also feel like he has a claim for the place after recently returning to the England fold.

The Manchester United player has been criminally underused by the national team during his career, and he should be given the chance to stake a claim for a starting place at some stage during this qualifying campaign. Bringing him alongside Cleverley and Gerrard would give England more control of the ball against two opposition sides they should be able to dominate.

Of course Lampard offers more of a goal threat than Carrick, and Hodgson might opt for the Chelsea man for this reason, but given the wealth of history that suggest playing him alongside Gerrard does not work, Hodgson might hesitate from trying this again.

Whoever gets the nod will likely step aside when Wilshere is fit, but given the Arsenal's man's record with injuries, England should start making plenty of plans for how to perform at their best without him.

image: © geetarchurchy

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