Arsenal patriarch Arsene Wenger looks set to re-open the dormant schism that exists between himself and the Football Association (FA) by attempting to levy 18-year-old midfield tyro Jack Wilshere‘s inclusion in the England U21 squad for next summer’s European Championships in Denmark.
Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA’s erstwhile director of football development, indicated earlier this week that he fully expects U21 coach Stuart Pearce to club together the strongest possible England squad to send to the tournament (i.e. all eligible youngsters with full international caps, with Wilshere specifically mentioned by name), though Wenger believes that continuing to call-up the youngster into both the junior and senior England side may have negative long-term connotations further down the line.
Given Wilshere’s increasingly prominent role at Arsenal, he seems almost certain to breach the ’40-game’ barrier this season (he’s already made 21 club appearances) despite his tender years, and Wenger believes that his young charge will be in dire need of an extended period of rest over the off-season – not another bout of competitive international ties:
“What the English FA have to decide is whether the player is in the first team or in the under-21s.
I don’t believe a player ever performs when he has been in a top team and comes back down to the under-21s.
It is always a bad decision. It’s because you feel you go down. You take any player who plays at Arsenal in the Premier League, put him down to Division One, you would be disappointed by him because he has to adapt to a different game, and he will be lost.”
Wenger has seen the tension caused by the FA’s apparent over-use of his players boil over before when, back in 2009, Theo Walcott was selected for both national teams within the space of a month against the Frenchman’s better judgement.
The winger then went on to suffer somewhat of an annus horribilis, with repetitive injuries and ebbing form ineffably contributing to a fairly dismal 2009/’10 on all fronts.
Wenger is wary that there is an increasing danger that similar short-sighted decisions are going to be made over Wilshere’s immediate future, with the FA keen to show-off their most laudable trinkets in Denmark.
However the Gallic schemer is adamant that his new-found footing in the Gunners’ first-string should preclude Wilshere from being selected for the U21s’ tournament which, for the record, runs from 11th through to the 25th of June:
“We have to sit down at the end of the season and see how many games Jack has played before considering that he plays in the U21s.
Playing with the first team until June and then playing in the U21s – that will not work. Every time he plays he has to put 200% in to win the ball. So, when a guy like him has played 40+ games in the season at 18 years of age, he is going to need a rest.”
Speaking at the same press conference, Wenger also told the waking world that he will not be making overtures to sign LA Galaxy star David Beckham on loan in January.
Beckham has found himself linked with a temporary move to the Emirates (after training with them last season) in a bid to keep his England chances alive during the MLS off-season, though Wenger insists that any prospective move for the former England captain will be prohibited by the fact that his squad is currently overflowing with right-sided midfielders:
“I love David Beckham but we cannot sign anyone in the department he plays. When he was here he was a fantastic example on the professional side.
He was the first in and the last out. Of course I would consider signing Beckham but it’s in an area where we do not need players.
We already have Walcott, [Samir] Nasri, [Tomas] Rosicky, [Andrey] Arshavin, [Carlos] Vela, [Emmanuel] Eboué who can all play on the flanks.”
And with that, I hereby wish all Soccerlens readers a highly enjoyable non-denominational holiday period. That’s it from me until next decade!