Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger: England Taking a Massive Risk with Wilshere

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wenger: England Taking a Massive Risk with Wilshere

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley Chief Football Correspondent

ARSENE WENGER today claimed England risk damaging Jack Wilshere's health after he revealed the Arsenal midfielder has been selected for the Under-21 European Championships.

Stuart Pearce was expected to name his 23-man squad tonight but the Football Association claim the list may now not be made public until tomorrow.

Pearce was due at a Club England board meeting this morning to present his final list but Wenger confirmed the 19-year-old will be asked to travel to Denmark.

Any player can withdraw from the squad before the list is submitted to UEFA on June 1 but Wilshere has previously stated his desire to play in the tournament.

The Gunners travel to Fulham on Sunday and if Wilshere features it will be his 49th appearance for the club this season.

Wenger fears the midfielder could suffer if he plays an international tournament at the end of his breakthrough campaign but insists he will not stand in his way should Pearce announce his inclusion.

"I have heard he has been picked," said the Arsenal manager. "We have to accept and respect the choice even if I think it is the wrong decision. Jack Wilshere is in the red for a while now and this can be a risk for his health.

"He will respect the decision. He knows he is nearly at the end of his energy level but he is keen to do well. He has played nearly 50 games this year. To go to a tournament for me is a massive risk.

"I'm happy if the Under-21s do well because I want England to do very well. I think it is not the right decision but will respect it and let him go."

While Wenger spends the summer fearful over the potential repercussions to Wilshere's long-term fitness, the Frenchman is again facing a fight to keep captain Cesc Fabregas.

Barcelona are expected to renew their interest in the 24-year-old, who they nearly signed last summer, and Inter Milan are also reportedly preparing a bid. However, Wenger, who also ruled out a summer departure for Andrey Arshavin, said: "I expect him to be here and I will fight very hard to keep him here. You always have to fight when you have a player of that quality. …

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