Competition for places will be fierce within the West Ham United squad this season, believes Jack Wilshere.
With new arrival Pablo Fornals joining the talents of Felipe Anderson, Michail Antonio, Grady Diangana, Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble, Robert Snodgrass and Andriy Yarmolenko in the creative midfield ranks, Wilshere reckons manager Manuel Pellegrini will face a selection dilemma this season.
That high level of competition is already being felt on the training pitch, according to the Hammers’ No19.
It’s down to me and the individuals to make it clear to the manager that we have to play
He said: “The intensity levels in training are high and you have to train well every day. That’s what you want as a player. If everyone manages to stay fit, the manager’s going to have a big problem. It’s down to me and the individuals to make it clear to the manager that we have to play.”
Having rallied late on to achieve a top-half Premier League finish last season, Wilshere believes improving consistency will be key to the Club making the next step up and finishing in the European qualification places.
“You have to fight and run around and tackle because otherwise you’re not going to survive, and we’ve got to do that this year,” the England international continued. “With the big teams we seem to be able to get ourselves up for those games and pick up results, maybe because we’re a little bit more focused and we know what we need to do.
“Against the teams around us, if we can repeat those performances and pick up results, we’ve got a good chance of finishing above them.”
In addition to participating in a full pre-season with the squad, Wilshere has spent time this summer preparing at West Ham’s training ground, Rush Green.
After signing for the Irons last summer, the midfielder’s first season with the Club was disrupted by injuries which restricted him to just eight appearances.
He explained his decision: “I got back towards the end of last season and I felt really good. The last couple of games on the pitch I felt good.
“It wasn’t the right time for me to rest, switch off and lose that work. I wanted to keep that sharpness up.”
Citing the importance of such preparation ahead of the Premier League season opener against Manchester City on Saturday 10 August, Wilshere said: “They don’t get any harder than that. I think we have to set our ambitions high because you look back at last year and we didn’t start well, but we finished really well. You know if we’d have picked up a couple more points we’d have been in a much better position.
“The margins are that close. This is the Premier League.”