Wilshere: Go for glory
Jack Wilshere insists England should aim to win the World Cup this summer.
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England head to Brazil with public expectation at its lowest for almost two decades.
One bookmaker is even offering 100-1 on Roy Hodgson's men winning the tournament.
That has not dampened enthusiasm within the camp though, and England seem to be revelling in the fact they are underdogs.
Wilshere speaks positively about the emergence of the new talent within Hodgson's 23-man party and he is so bullish about England's prospects he admits he would be unhappy if the team exited the tournament.
"We are going to a tournament and we are not going to say we are happy with the semis. We are going there to win it," the Arsenal midfielder said.
"We want to make the country proud."
Four years ago, a similar wave of optimism coursed through the veins of the nation when Steven Gerrard put England ahead against the United States in their opening match, but the Three Lions ended up scraping through their group before being knocked out by Germany in brutal fashion.
Expectations were much higher in the previous two campaigns under Sven-Goran Eriksson, but the so-called 'Golden Generation' failed to get beyond the quarter-finals in Germany and the Far East.
This time a new generation of stars such as Wilshere, Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley will have to deal with the weight of a nation on their shoulders.
Some 17 of the 23 men in Hodgson's party have never been to a World Cup before, but Wilshere sees that as a help rather than a hindrance.
"We are going there with a young squad and when you do that, they bring a 'no fear factor'," he said.
"We have got the likes of (Steven) Gerrard and (Frank) Lampard who are there to calm everything down.
"They have been there three or four times. It is a good mix."
When Wilshere burst on to the scene in 2010 to much acclaim, he was hailed as the new Paul Gascoigne.
But unfortunately for England fans, they have seen little of the midfielder in recent times due to injury.
Wilshere has just 15 caps to his name - thanks largely to an ankle injury which kept him out of the game for 16 months.
Alarm bells started ringing when the 22-year-old broke his left foot during England's win over Denmark in March, but he insists he is steadily getting back to full fitness after two substitute appearances for Arsenal.
"I'm feeling good," Wilshere said.
"I am at the stage now where I just need a few games. I have been training for six weeks and I had 30 minutes at Norwich, and the last 15 at Wembley. I am fresh.
"(Only having 15 caps) has been tough to take but I tend to look forward.
"I have got a World Cup in front of me now and if someone had told me four years ago that I would be going to a World Cup now, I would have been happy with 15 caps and then going."
Hodgson, who has given Wilshere 10 England caps, will be the man charged with getting the best out of a talented player who is yet to hit the heights expected of him.
Hodgson may be an affable and engaging person in public, but Wilshere is expecting fireworks from the England manager if he and his team-mates are not up to scratch.
When asked whether Hodgson has a nasty side, Wilshere said: "Yes, he has.
"He can lose it a little bit but at the end of the day if someone is not doing what he is telling them, he has got every right to do that."
England took part in their penultimate training session at St George's Park on Wednesday before their farewell friendly against Peru.
Leighton Baines returned to England's base following a personal commitment that kept him out of the squad's first training session on Tuesday.
England face Peru on Friday at Wembley before flying to Miami, where they will take on Ecuador and Honduras as part of their World Cup build-up.