Brady Backs Wilshere U21 Call

Whilst Arsene Wenger will undoubtedly want Jack Wilshere to recuperate after a campaign that could see him play 53 matches, Liam Brady has a different view and believes he should play for England U21′s at  this summer’s European Championships.

Arsenal’s head of youth development and mentor to Wilshere suggested the young midfiedler would benefit from appearing in the tournament. Quoted in yesterdays Times the Arsenal legend noted that he knew his opinion wouldn’t fit with Wenger’s view.

“I’m probably going get myself into trouble with Arsene, who will want the boy to have a rest” said Brady.

These views echo those of Stuart Pearce who reiterated his position after the U21’s slumped to a disappointing 1-2 defeat at home to Iceland on Monday.

“I’m patriotic to this country so I would say that,” said Pearce. “It’s not from a selfish point of view. We would look slightly amateurish, in my opinion, if we decide to leave our best players at home.”

The former England left-back went on to reference Sergio Busquets’ desire to represent Spain in this summer’s U21 tournament.

“We generate this myth that we play more football than anyone else but Spain may turn up with a World Cup winner. That would make us look rather silly, I think.”

It is understandable that Pearce wishes to give the best account of himself and the English youth system, however Brady’s view is perhaps more interesting given that the Irishman has been an integral part of Wilshere’s development. There is no doubt that playing in a tournament scenario against the best players of his generation, with the possibilty of a trophy at the end, would be of value.

Those who argue in favour of Wilshere’s inclusion have referenced the fact that Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil represented the German U21’s and won the U21 European Championships in 2009. This experience provided a foundation for both to perform exceptionally at the 2010 World Cup, playing essential roles in a team that surprised many by progressing to the Semi-Finals in South Africa.

What this persuasive argument fails to notice is that neither Kedira nor Ozil graduated to the German senior team until after serving a full apprenticeship at U21 level. Both got their first senior caps on September 5th 2009, over two months after their last appearance at junior level. The fact is that neither of these execptional talents were senior players until after they’d proved themselves at the foundation level.

Brady may wish to see Wilshere turn out for the U21’s this summer and, if reports are to be believed, Jack himself wants to play, but this doesn’t neccesarily mean that it’s best course of action. The question is whether the success of the U21 setup is decided by trophies they win or by the volume and quality of players that progress to full international standard. Germany took the latter as a measure and have expertly crafted a side that is now good enough to challenge seriously at senior level. England’s handling of prodigious youngsters is somewhat less coherent.

Maybe there is an argument that the likes of Andy Carroll and Wilshere – and Rooney and Walcott before them – should have stayed U21’s for longer before being weighed down with expectancy at the top level. Of course, where gaps in the first XI exist and a youngster is best placed to fill it, as has happened with Wilshere, it makes more sense to accept that he is now a senior and has progressed sooner than the system in place would have expected. Sadly, England don’t seem to have a system to speak of.

England no longer have the option of slow development adopted by the Germans. The decision has been made by Fabio Capello to blood Wilshere at the top level and that is where he should stay. His talent should not be used to edge Pearce and a depserate FA closer to a trophy they hope will relieve the pressure exerted by an expectant English public.