Backpage roundup: Shawcross forgiven for horror tackle, handshakes banned at Arsenal, Wenger not worried about Carroll, Ramsey’s captaincy and more

Shawcross Has ‘Cleaned Up His Act’ – Wenger

Arsene Wenger has given Ryan Shawcross’ England call-up his blessing and said that the Stoke City defender has “cleaned up his act.”

The 25-year-old centre-half is a hate figure among the Arsenal fans due to his ankle-breaking tackle on Aaron Ramsey in 2010. At that time, Wenger was highly critical of Shawcross but he says his opinion of the Potters captain has since changed.

In a recent interview, Wenger said: “You know what happened is what happened and it is down to Roy Hodgson to select the team. I think he has improved as a player and he has cleaned up his act. You cannot convict a player forever because of that.

“I didn’t agree at the time with the tackle. I said that, it was just my opinion again, it doesn’t mean that the players has to suffer from that his whole life. He looks to be nowadays more efficient in his game and more composed.”

Wenger: Losing Wales Captaincy Could Benefit Ramsey

Arsene Wenger says that losing Wales captaincy will enable Aaron Ramsey to be more focused on his own game and could speed up the Arsenal midfielder’s development.

Late Welsh manager Gary Speed was the one who had handed the captaincy armband to Ramsey last year. However, his successor Chris Coleman recently relieved the 21-year-old Gunner from the responsibility and appointed Swansea City’s Ashley Williams as the new captain due to the team’s disastrous start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.

When Wenger was asked if losing the captaincy could upset Ramsey’s game, he rejected the idea and insisted that it could actually turn out to be exactly the opposite of that.

He said: “I don’t think it will affect him (Ramsey). It can help him play with more freedom. He’s at an age where you have to focus first on your game, and later on in your career on some other things. At the moment, maybe it’s a bit less responsibility for him and will help him play with a bit more freedom and add something to his game. I felt he was a bit young when he was given the armband.”

No Special Plans to Handle Carroll – Wenger

Arsene Wenger believes Andy Carroll is back to his best since leaving his parent club Liverpool in the summer but has told his players just to concentrate on their own game and not worry too much about how to stop the towering presence of the West Ham striker.

Ahead of Arsenal’s league meeting with the Hammers, Wenger discussed Carroll’s ability and his recent struggles by saying: “Carroll has the quality and that will come out with time. We expect Carroll to be at his best – it is down to us to deal with that. We can only focus on our own performance and be at our best. I rate Carroll, and don’t think we have seen the best of him until now.

“He started very well, then he had to deal with a high level of expectation with a massive transfer on his shoulders (to Liverpool) going to an historic club where a lot was expected of him. Maybe it was a bit too early for him. Since I have seen him at West Ham, he looks back to the Carroll we have seen at Newcastle, that means with less pressure.”

Wenger to Be Patient with Wilshere

Arsene Wenger says that he will be very careful in incorporating Jack Wilshere in his first-team and he wants England coach Roy Hodgson to also use the same approach with the Arsenal midfielder.

Wilshere, 20, only recently returned to competitive football after missing 14 months of football due to a series of ankle and knee injuries, and Wenger has emphasized that it is very important not to rush the player into too much too soon.

The Arsenal boss said: “Jack needs a few games, progressive build-up to get his body used again to competition, to shocks, to fights, but he is doing extremely well, the situation looks very good. We have to be cautious, not crazy, because of his talent you are always pushed in a situation where you would like to rush him back, and we have to resist that.

“The next match should be next week and he is working very hard. The body is like that, when you have been out of competition for 14 months it takes a long time to find your sharpness back. You cannot rush it.

“There are three things that are important for every player: the health of the player, the interests of the club and the interests of the national team. You have to try to combine the three but the most important thing of course is the health of the player.

“[England manager] Roy Hodgson is long enough in the job to know that a player who has been out for 14 months, you have to give him time to play again. When the time comes up, he will play for England again of course.”

Handshakes Banned At Arsenal Due to Virus

Arsenal have told their players not to shake hands with each other at their London Colney training headquarters due to a mysterious virus.

The Gunners have been forced to ban the greeting gesture after Per Mertesacker, Theo Walcott, Thomas Vermaelen and several other members of the staff reported sick this week.

Coach Arsene Wenger believes that the best way to stop the bug from spreading any further is to suspend the handshaking tradition.

The Daily Mirror quoted Wenger as saying: “We have improved the level of hygiene in the dressing room. We clean everything. It is funny, but shaking hands is one of the biggest things to spread virus.”

Wenger Ready to Turn Walcott into a Striker

Arsene Wenger has reiterated that he intends to grant winger Theo Walcott his wish and turn him into a striker just like he did with Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie.

In a recent interview, the Arsenal manager was asked if he would eventually transform Walcott into a striker, to which he said: “I did it with Henry and van Persie and I think I will do it with Walcott.”

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