England legend Peter Shilton today backed Jack Wilshere and insisted international football must protect its credibility.
The Three Lions’ record appearance holder believes Wilshere is right to say only English players should be eligible for their country.
England boss Roy Hodgson has asked about the availability of Manchester United’s Belgian-born starlet Adnan Januzaj through residency rules. But Shilton insisted countries face losing their integrity if they look to “bend the rules” for potential players.
“I’m in Jack Wilshere’s camp,” said ex-goalkeeper Shilton, who made a record 125 appearances for England.
“What’s international football about? You don’t want to get to a point where you’ve got five or six players who, in all honesty, shouldn’t be playing but are because the rules have been bent. You don’t want that because then international football is going to start losing credibility.
“There’s bound to be a grey area where someone could be English but might have another nationality but I don’t want it to get to a point where it gets ridiculous.
“The rules are being bent, sometimes too much. You have to have that nationality there. I’m not saying it’s got to be 100 per cent but the rules should be there.
“I’m with Jack and you have to be more or less English to play for England.”
England host Montenegro in a vital World Cup qualifier tonight ahead of their final Group H match with Poland on Tuesday.
Two wins will book England’s place in Brazil next year after an underwhelming qualifying campaign.
Hodgson said of Wilshere: “I think his comments, if not misunderstood, were translated in a way people wanted to translate them. The subject matter is worthy of debate and, at the end of the day, it will be a policy decision taken by the FA.”
Skipper Steven Gerrard added: “To be fair to Jack he tried to give a very patriotic answer. He loves England and I don’t think he meant to intentionally disrespect anyone in any other sport. But credit to him, he has a very strong opinion.”