Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright says Jack Wilshere has to be "more mature and wiser" about his social life, after the midfielder was caught up in a nightclub fracas over the weekend.
Wilshere is close to returning to fitness after missing the entire season so far with a fractured ankle, but his latest off-field controversy has reignited debate about the player's lifestyle.
"You just want that maturity to start to kick in because at some stage he's got to focus on being a top footballer," Wright told ESPN FC. "He wants to be a great footballer and leave a legacy, rather than having people talking about his off-field activities. For Jack, at some stage that has to kick in for him. And I'm sure it will."
Wilshere was filmed being interviewed by police outside a London club early Sunday after a heated argument spilled out onto the streets. One man allegedly accused the England international of assault, which the player has denied.
Arsenal have confirmed that Wilshere was at the scene, but called it a private matter that will dealt with internally.
It's not the first time Wilshere has misbehaved off the pitch. He was cautioned for common assault in 2010 and has been criticised by Arsene Wenger for being pictured smoking several times.
Wright said the player will have to examine his social circle and make some tough choices about the circles he moves in, in order to stay out of trouble in the future.
"You just have to be a bit more mature and wiser about the company you keep. That's the only thing he has to learn, is the company you keep and the places you go," said Wright, who was speaking at an event to launch the Barclays' Spirit of the Game trophy competition, where a fan will get to present the Premier League trophy to the winning team at the end of the season.
"Jack didn't have anything to do with the fracas, but he was there. And when you're Jack Wilshere of Arsenal and England, your name is the one that's going to get on the front page of newspapers. He has to start to realise that he is an England international, a top Arsenal player and an inspiration to a lot of kids. You want him to realise that, 'OK I won't go out this time. Or if I do, I'll go home early. Or if I want to have a good time I'll just do it with my mates around my house'."
Wright, who also wrote about Wilshere's situation in his weekly column in The Sun, agreed that the timing of Wilshere's incident was bad given the fact that he just returned to training as Arsenal make a late push to stay in the title race.
But he didn't think it would serve as a distraction to the rest of the team. "I've been in dressing rooms where people have been caught out in respect of off-field controversies," Wright said.
"But when you play, you play. You get on with it."