Pearce To Pick Wilshere As His Personal Pawn

Stuart Pearce says that he will pick ‘the best players available’ for this summer’s U21 European Championships. In light of the England setups mishandling of Theo Walcott’s transition from U21 to full International, this should be seen as a worrying development for Arsenal – and for Jack Wilshere.

From the club’s point of view we would all much rather Jack spent this summer having a recuperative holiday and relaxing his mind and body for next season. Come May, Wilshere will have likely racked up in excess of 50 competitive appearances for club and country so a break will be required. The last thing we need is for Wilshere to risk injury playing in a tournament he has now outgrown.

The other significant issue here is that Wilshere is being talked up by Fabio Capello as a key part of the restructured national team, remarking that Wilshere is ready to fulfil a significant role.

“He will one day captain England, undoubtedly,” said Capello in yesterday’s England presser.

“He reminds me in many ways of Bryan Robson. He is the best young midfield player I have ever seen at his age.

“His Champions League performances against Barcelona show he is a real leader on the pitch.

“To play with the confidence and attitude he showed against a Barcelona side that is the finest in the world was incredible. And not just in London but in Barcelona as well. Wilshere has made stunning progress over the last seven months.”

The challenge of finding a holding player to compliment Wilshere remains.

Capello continued: “He is best when he is involved in the middle. All the important players need time on the ball. Now we have to find another holding player.”

Wilshere is no longer a youngster just being afforded an opportunity to see how the big boys work, he’s becoming a key player for club and country.

Apart from protecting him physically, Capello and Pearce have a duty to protect him mentally. If he’s a first team player, treat him like one. There can be no sense in switching the young playmaker from key player to junior in a matter of weeks.  The U21’s should be a breeding ground for players to sample the international environment and learn the ropes – the results are less important. Stuart Pearce may want to bolster his CV with an impressive showing in Denmark this summer, but that should not be his main concern.

The U21’s should be praised for giving the likes of Wilshere and Andy Carroll to the seniors but Pearce should now focus on finding new players to bring through, rather than relying on those who’ve already graduated. If Wilshere plays for England this summer it will be bad for him and for other young midfielders whose place he would be taking.

You can guarantee that Arsene Wenger will fight this all the way as there is no way that Wilshere should be used as Pearce’s pawn – or for the FA to save face following years of disappointment by winning a junior tournament with full internationals in the team.