Burton-On-Trent (United Kingdom), March 22: England midfielder Jack Wilshere has played down World Cup expectations but believes the Russian showpiece could be a stepping stone towards a brighter future for Gareth Southgate�s inexperienced team.
The Arsenal player is hoping to win his first cap in nearly two years in warm-up friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy after battling back to recover his place in Arsene Wenger�s team this season.
The squad Wilshere has rejoined is a far cry from the one he first broke into as a highly promising 18-year-old in 2010.
Shorn of talismanic striker Harry Kane through injury, Southgate�s 27-man group is desperately thin on players performing regularly at the highest level.
�It�s completely different. I remember the first time I walked into an England squad, I went for dinner the first time and there was (Wayne) Rooney, (Frank) Lampard, (Steven) Gerrard, (Rio) Ferdinand, (John) Terry � big players who I had watched growing up,� Wilshere said at England�s training base.
�It�s a different feel now. There�s more young players, there�s more of a group I think and there�s more of a plan towards the future.�
Wilshere�s last outing in an England shirt was not one to remember as Roy Hodgson�s side were embarrassed 2-1 by Iceland at Euro 2016 � extending England�s long wait for a first win in the knockout phase of a major tournament, which they have not achieved since 2006.
And he stressed that big expectations should not be piled onto the shoulders of a young squad, despite excellent results at youth tournaments that have boosted hopes of a brighter future. England�s under-20 and under-17 sides won their respective World Cups last year. � AFP