Pearce and Wenger clash over Wilshere burnout

May 4, 2011
Jonathan Harwood

The player faces three years of non-stop football if he plays for the U-21s this summer

England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce could be on a collision course with Arsene Wenger over the summer plans of midfield starlet Jack Wilshere, who has been included in his initial 40-man squad for the European Under-21 Championship finals in Denmark in June.

Wenger is concerned that Wilshere, who has played 40 games for Arsenal this season, will suffer burnout if he tries to play for both the Under-21s and the senior England team.

And if he does play in Denmark this summer then it could mean that the 19-year-old will not get a proper break from the game until the summer of 2013. The youngster has established himself in the Arsenal midfield this season and is likely to be in Fabio Capello's squad for the European Championships in the summer of 2012 - should England qualify - and that would mean spending two consecutive summers playing tournament football for his country.

However Pearce told the BBC: "The indications I have had from Jack is that he wants to play... The clubs will usually follow the lead of the players and if the players want to be there they will be there.

"I have a feeling [Wenger and I] are going to have different viewpoints but the most important thing is the lad himself wanting to play in the under-21 tournament and I have had that conversation with him."

Wenger believes that there is no point in Wilshere representing the Under-21s now that he has established himself as a full international. The Frenchman said: "Why do you produce a youth system? It is to get them ready to be playing in the first team. Once they play in the first team, your job has been done so you can promote other players."

Pearce, though, argued that it would be "silly" not to take the likes of Wilshere. "We're going into a major tournament against some very good nations," he said. "They'll be turning up with their best players. We want to turn up with ours."

He also pointed out that players like Mesut Ozil and Manuel Neuer, who were part of the German team that humbled England in the World Cup last summer, had played at the Under-21 Championships in 2009, where they beat England's youngsters 4-0 in the final.

So far the discussions between Pearce and Wenger appear to be cordial, and Pearce said he would carry on talking with the Arsenal boss - but, tellingly, he made it clear he did not feel he had to explain himself to other managers.

Also in the squad is Liverpool's Andy Carroll, but Pearce said he did not need to liaise with Kenny Dalglish over his inclusion - possibly because Carroll has missed parts of the season with injury and will not be fatigued.

Other squad members to have been capped by Capello include Danny Welbeck, Jordan Henderson, Micah Richards and Kieran Gibbs.

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