Former England international Darren Bent has admitted he’s been left baffled by West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini’s snub of midfielder Jack Wilshere last Saturday.
Despite netting in a Carabao Cup victory over Newport County last Tuesday, the former Arsenal man failed to even make it into the Hammers’ match-day squad for their victory over Norwich City.
Sky Sports pundit Bent feels Pellegrini’s decision was an error: “For me Wilshere has to play,” he told Football Insider. “You have to play Jack, he’s got that little bit something extra, he can create, score goals. It’s just his fitness – if he can stay fit and accumulate a lot of games, you’re going to see the very best of him.
“This can’t happen, what’s happening now – where he plays in the cup and then doesn’t play for a couple of weeks. He needs to be playing regularly to get back to that best form that we know he’s got. The performance [v Norwich] is not going to help his cause but he’s just got to stay positive and first and foremost, he’s got to stay fit.”
You can both see where Bent is coming from here and, kind of, not. He’s right that Wilshere can both score and create goals, we’ve seen that over the years – albeit far too infrequently. And he’s also correct where he says we can’t have a situation where the England international plays once in the cup and then doesn’t feature for weeks in a row. That’s what’s going to happen, here, due to the international break. It’s a shame, because he put in a decent performance against Newport and his confidence will have been high after scoring in that game. However, Pellegrini was right not to have Wilshere in his starting line-up, at least, against the Canaries. Mark Noble and Declan Rice is the standout central midfield duo for the team at the moment, with both men bringing out the best in each other. Having said that, Pellegrini surely could have found a place for Wilshere on the bench. Still, perhaps he is merely taking his recovery from long-term injury carefully and that’s why he missed out. But at this stage, you can’t simply demand for him to be involved, as Bent is doing, because he doesn’t deserve automatic consideration at the moment.