Bolton Wanderers' Paul Robinson says he knew Jack Wilshere was going to be a star after the Arsenal youngster's loan spell at the Reebok Stadium last season.
Arsenal's Wilshere should win the Young Player of the Year award
The Arsenal and England schemer is tipped to pick up the award won by James Milner last year following an outstanding season in the heart of the midfield for the Premier League title contenders.
Wilshere, 19, spent the second half of last season on loan at Bolton where he became fully acclimatised to the furious pace of the game in England's top tier.
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Wilshere made a lasting impression on his adopted teammates, including Paul Robinson, the left-back, and returned to the Reebok Stadium last month to watch Bolton beat Everton.
"Jack came from Arsenal and we didn't expect him to be so good when he came to us, but you could see his strength and his great touch," Robinson said. "He has a really old professional head on him. He was only 18 when he was with us but he reads the game so well, and he is a strong little character who is not afraid to go in and put his foot in."
Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, would have liked to extend Wilshere's stay at Bolton but Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, felt the teenage prodigy was ready to command a place in his team. He has made 37 appearances this season, often outshining midfield luminaries such as Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin in the Arsenal midfield.
"He is having a great season and, for me, is the young player of the season," Robinson said. "He will be getting my vote, 100 per cent."
Robinson, 32, has been joined at Bolton recently by another rising star of English football. Daniel Sturridge joined the club on loan from Chelsea in January and has scored four goals in four starts.
"He has been outstanding for us so far," Robinson said. "You can see what ability he has got and he can only get better as he plays with better players.
"He wants to play regular football and our gaffer wanted him on loan. It is good for these young players to play regular games and fair play to Carlo Ancelotti [the Chelsea manager] for letting him do that, and letting him get game time and improve as a player."
Sturridge has a reputation for being impatient and over-confident but Robinson said: "He is a level-headed player who wants to listen. He is always listening to the experienced players, for confidence and knowing when to do the right thing in the right areas.
"If he continues to play like this he'll have a chance with England without a shadow of a doubt and hopefully he will follow in Jack's footsteps."