Jack Wilshere's Arsenal, England career can be relaunched by Euro 2016
The slightly ominous feeling stirring in your gut tells you that even at some personal cost to the player, it might well be best for Arsenal if Jack Wilshere sits out Euro 2016. The trouble with gut feelings, though, is that they are frequently wrong.
With Roy Hodgson preparing to announce his squad for the European Championship on Monday, clearly there is a concern for Arsenal that following through on his assurances that he will pick Wilshere risks placing too excessive a workload on a fragile player whose recent return from a nine-month absence has comprised just 72 minutes spread across two substitute appearances.
England have three friendly fixtures before flying out to France for what, if all goes to plan, will be a hectic procession of matches across the country: Marseille, St Etienne, Lens and, with a bit of luck, Paris.
Any wariness on Arsenal's part would be entirely understandable. It is 18 months since Wilshere had a prolonged and significant run in the team. Last August's fibula fracture was just the latest in a brutal conveyor belt of serious injuries to inhibit the development one of the best talents to make it out of the club's academy in decades.
Furthermore, international duty has come at a cost before. In the summer of 2011, at the end of his breakthrough season, Wilshere injured his ankle in a match against Switzerland and after aggravating it was out for nearly 18 months, missing the entirety of the 2011-12 season. The last thing Arsenal need is for a player who is now 24 to be dealt another setback in a summer when he could instead focus on getting completely fit and ready to attack 2016-17 with renewed vigour.
And yet, there is an alternative view -- one which is held by Arsene Wenger. Speaking at the start of April, the Arsenal manager said he would welcome Wilshere's inclusion in Hodgson's travelling party. "You want your players to compete at the top level," Wenger said. "It is important for Wilshere to play in the Euros. When you're a footballer you want to compete at the top level and what is important is that Jack, who is frustrated enough, regains confidence. It's very important for his confidence that he can go to the Euros and he can play. It's also important to have a player of his quality available."
Wenger's management of Wilshere's rehabilitation appears to have been well judged to get him in the England squad. A handful of under-21 games and now increasing minutes from the bench: six against Sunderland and 66 against Manchester City at the weekend. It is building to a mini-crescendo which could see Wilshere sneak into Hodgson's final selection, which must be named on May 31, after friendlies against Turkey and Australia which are likely to be vital in his ongoing recovery.
And whatever inherent risks an enterprise like going to France would contain, it is a recovery which would surely be aided by his participation in the Euro 2016 finals.
When you have missed an estimated total of 890 days, or 2.4 years, eight years into your career, as Wilshere has, the desire to participate in as much first-team football as possible must be overwhelming. Every new injury chips away at your legacy; every new spell on the sidelines smothers potential goals, assists and trophy-winning feats.
England might be knocked out at the group stages of the Euros. But there is a chance, however small, that they could win it with Wilshere playing an influential role. For a player who has grown all too accustomed to watching matches from the stands, or lying on his sofa at home with a protective cast placed around a damaged limb, the allure is obvious.
Wilshere needs confidence; he needs to get his rhythm back; he needs more touches of the ball in a competitive environment. Simply put, he needs more football. It is what defines him and if playing at the Euros is the catalyst to relaunching his career then Arsenal will be glad that Hodgson took a risk on a player with fewer than 90 minutes under his belt for the entire season.
England duty has broken Jack Wilshere, but it has elevated him too. In his last appearance for his country, he scored two goals in a magnificent performance against Slovenia in a Euro 2016 qualifier in June 2015. In fact, it was the last match Wilshere started for club or country and the last time he really looked like a potent footballer. It was a glimpse of the player Wilshere might become, could have become if it were not for those injuries. And if going to Euro 2016 can bring him closer to realising that talent, it will be worth it for all parties.
Tom is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @tomEurosport