Arsenal and England star Jack Wilshere has opened up about how he goes about understanding the role of a holding midfielder. A role he has now twice reprised for the Three Lions.
Wilshere, who plays for Arsenal ahead of the holding midfielder, has been tasked by Roy Hodgson to play in the deeper role and the manager is confident that he can find success in that position.
The Gunners star has the natural ability to run past players with the ball at his feet, but has not lived up to the potential due to injuries and lack of form. However, this season he has had a good run of games and has been ever present for both club and country.
The 23-year-old midfielder has revealed that he is watching video clips of World Cup winning midfielders like Xabi Alonso and Andrea Pirlo, who play the role of a deep lying playmaker for their respective countries and clubs.
He believes he can learn how to control a game better from midfield and understands the perils that come with being a holding ball playing midfielder like the Spaniard or the Italian.
"I have been watching Xabi Alonso on video in the past couple of weeks," Wilshere said, as quoted in the Express.
"He had a record number of passes on one game, 200 in a match, which is ridiculous," he said in awe of the Spanish international, who currently plays for Bayern Munich.
"Watching players like him and Pirlo you learn how clever they are, how intelligent they are on the ball."
"In that role it's important to understand that if you lose the ball the opposition are in a dangerous position to counter-attack."
"Whereas if I was playing a little bit higher, on the edge of the box, you can lose it and you have players around who can get the ball back," the Arsenal midfielder explained.
"You learn how they use the ball and you learn when it's a good time to dribble or to pass. It's about being intelligent on the ball."
"I get clips sent through to my iPad by the analysts. They highlight some of Alonso's key points in about 20-35 minutes of video," the Englishman remarked.
Wilshere believes that everytime he goes on to the pitch, it's a learning experience and after watching videos of the two midfielders he can analyse his game better as well.
He is confident of getting better with every passing game and feels like he has already improved with his second performance in the holding role against San Marino.
"There are times when he does things that I wouldn't have thought of. That's part and parcel of learning. Even when I watch my games back I think; 'What am I doing now?' and I should have done this instead."
"It was my second game in the role against San Marino. I thought that I had already improved, so there's a lot more to come from me in that position. The more I watch players like that, the quicker I will learn," the Three Lions midfielder revealed.
Meanwhile, manager Hodgson is also delighted that Wilshere is keen to learn from more experienced players and has recommended another player for the England international to observe.
"I thought Javier Mascherano was the best player at the World Cup last summer. He could be another one to look at," Hodgson added.