Arsenal's Jack Wilshere has been selected in England's provisional squad of 40 players for this summers European Under 21 Football Championships. The squad will be trimmed to 23 players on June 1st, and their first game will be against Spain on June 12th. If England progress from their group, which also includes Ukraine and Czech Republic, they could possibly be playing until the final on June 25th.
19 year old Wilshere has had an exceptional first full season for Arsenal, and he was named as the Premier League's young player of the year, as well as being included in the Premier League team of the season. He has been included in Arsenal's starting 11 more than any other player so far this season, with 41 appearances, as well as five substitute appearances. His rise to stardom has been quite phenomenal in his first full season in the Premier League, and the future looks exceptionally bright for him.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had urged caution from England under 21 manager Stuart Pearce, as he thought Wilshere needed a rest this summer after such a long season at his tender age. Wenger has already said that Wilshere will almost certainly miss the start if he is included in the squad for the under 21 championships, as he will need a minimum of four weeks holidays before returning to pre-season training. With the English season starting in mid August it will mean that Wilshere will not be available for Arsenal's first few Premier League games, and if that's the case he may also miss England's Euopean qualifier against Bulgaria in early September.
Stuart Pearce has shown in the past that his prime interest as Englan'd under 21 manager is to win trophies, and if that means including senior players in his squad, he's happy enough to do it. Arsenal have suffered from this policy in the past when Theo Walcott played for the England senior side before turning out for the underage team, and suffering an injury which affected his start to last season. It would now seem that Pearce wants Wilshere to lead his team, despite the fact that he has played for the senior team four times already.
Wilshere was in the starting 11 for England's last European qualifier against Wales, and in my opinion that makes him a current England senior international, and he should not be included in the under 21 squad. The decision by Pearce to pick him is nothing short of a disgrace, and if Arsenal suffer from that decision there is no recourse for them. Arsenal pay the wages of Wilshere, and it is completely unreasonable of the England set up to select him for the senior team, as well as the underage team.
The player himself has indicated he is more than willing to play for the under 21 team, and who can blame a player who is really enjoying his football at the moment. At his young age he needs to get his rest when he can, and it's vital for him to recharge his batteries this summer, but his chances of doing so will be very limited now. I'm sure he would love to win the tournament along with his team mates who he has played with at this level in the past.
If England are going to have any chance in the tournament Wilshere will be crucial for them, and there is of course the argument that the experience of playing in a tournament will help him if England make it to the European finals next year. A win for England with Wilshere starring could also be a great boost for the player, and it could help to develop the winning mentality which seems to be missing at Arsenal. However, with Pearce as the manager, the England players will have to be very good if they are to make any progress in the tournament.
Overall I just can't see Wilshere's inclusion being of any benefit for the player or for Arsenal either. It's a step backwards for him, as the difference between the level of a full international, and an under 21 international is immense, and it's going to impact on his season with Arsenal. If Engalnd make it to the 2012 European Championships he will have t play next summer as well, and it will mean he misses having a proper break for two summers in a row. This season Cesc Fabregas has spent the whole season going from one injury to another, and it's no coincidence he has played tournaments for his country in the last three summers.
Football is now played at such a pace, and with such intensity that players need time to recover from one season to another, or they will suffer the consequences. At 23 years of age Cesc is suffering from burnout in my opinion, and at only 19 Wilshere hasn't even finished growing, but he is being asked to play far too often for his own good. I hope I'm completely wrong, and Wilshere stars for England in the tournament, before going on to excel for Arsenal next season, but only time will tell the long term effects on him.
There are two other Arsenal players in the preliminary squad announced, as both Kieran Gibbs, and Henri Lansbury were picked too. I think Gibbs is likely to make the final cut, but Lansbury might not have had enough exposure this season to be included. He has been reduced to a substitute's role in the Norwich City team recently, as they have managed to regain their Premier League status, after a six year absence.
In other news the club have released pictures of the new home kit for next season, and you can see those pictures and more on the excellent The Invincible Gunners blog. It's a one off kit for next season, as it's the 125th anniversary of the founding of the club. The shirt is fairly similar to this season's one, but there is a bespoke crest to highlight the origins of the club. I'm sure it will be very popular with Arsenal fans, but not everybody can afford a new home shirt, after buying one this season, and knowing there will be a new one the following season.This is what the new shirt looks like.
That's it for today.
Here's a look at Jack Wilshere in action.
See You Tomorrow.