Charlie Nicholas has described Jack Wilshere’s reaction as “understandable” after the Arsenal midfielder was shown a red card for sparking a brawl in an U23s game.
Wilshere reacted aggressively to a heavy tackle from Manchester City youngster Matthew Smith, pushing the 17-year-old to the floor before becoming embroiled in a shoving match with Tyreke Wilson, who joined Wilshere in seeing red for the incident.
However, Nicholas sympathised with Wilshere, who was making his second appearance for Arsenal U23s after coming back from a fractured leg, suggesting it is the City youngster guilty of the initial tackle who should have been most severely reprimanded.
“When I first saw the tackle I thought the No 8 [Smith] was out of order going in there to potentially harm him,” Nicholas said. “I don’t know whether there was any build up but he ends up getting away with it.
“The pace that that lad comes in is as if he’s going in with a method to harm him, suggesting ‘I’ll show you’ and he should be the one who is isolated here.
“The big problem is, we all know how many injuries Wilshere has had and when you’re making a fourth comeback from major injuries, you need to feel your way in.
“I’m not saying other teams need to go easy on him or that he’s right, but I can totally understand his reaction.
“Even the lad who tried to harm him went down like he’d been shot. Of course, it makes Jack look foolish but he’s an international footballer, he should be an Arsenal regular, but this is where he is, fighting for his fitness, trying everything he can and this lad has gone in with the intention to harm him.
“The headline story is Jack Wilshere and the good thing is he got up, but it is sad because he’d been playing well and set up a goal.”
However, Nicholas does see a future for Wilshere at the Emirates Stadium but would like him to go out on loan again, potentially abroad, to return to the level required to fight for a regular first-team place.
“I don’t think Arsenal are just trying to get him fit to sell him,” the former Arsenal striker added. “I think the feeling is that they want to get him fit and keep him for the first team.
“It’s easier said than done because of his fitness. I am surprised there’s not more teams of substance in for him, but that is probably because of his fitness.
“I think Jack will sit tight and I wouldn’t actually be surprised if he gets another contract. But he might have to go out on loan again, this time just until January in a bid to get him fit.
“It has to be at a high standard though and if I was him then I’d be looking to go to Spain, or even Italy or France, to go there to broaden his mind because he gets caught up in this image of always being injured.
“I know he’s just got married so might not want to move but that change of scenery and the opportunity to learn a different culture might be just what he needs for a fresh start.
“Then he can come back to Arsenal as a better player.”