Richard Bates - Why Wilshere and co should stick with the senior England squad

04 April 2011 03:28
The club-versus-country row will never end. When one debate appears to have reached its conclusion, another ignites.

Club managers are continually frustrated at their players returning to training exhausted, picking up niggling injuries and having missed out on vital preparation time. International bosses get fed up with having to release squad members early, the irregularity of team meet-ups and generally getting an earful from pretty much every other manager.

The latest episode in the everlasting squabble - this summer's Under-21s European Championships in Denmark. The topic has caused friction between Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and England counterpart Fabio Capello after the latter supported Stuart Pearce's request for all of his best players to take part in the tournament.

Wenger is clearly opposed to the idea, as it means Jack Wilshere will be involved. Last season, the 19-year-old turned out for Bolton Wanderers just 13 times during a loan spell, while only making a handful of cameos as a substitute for the Gunners. Presuming Wilshere takes part in all of Arsenal's remaining fixtures this season, he will end his first full campaign having made 51 senior appearances.

Understandably, Wenger wants his young star to spend the extra fortnight resting ahead of pre-season. It makes little or no sense for Wilshere, Theo Walcott or Andy Carroll to take part in this tournament. When fully fit, everybody is aware that they will all be permanent fixtures within the first-team squad.

The argument has been put forward that they'll gain vital experience of playing in an international tournament, yet in the last few years, they'd have taken part in lots of similar tours. These spots could be put to better use. Josh McEachran, Adam Hammill, Jordan Mutch and Connor Wickham have only just been given a taste of football at this level, so why stunt their growth by choosing more experienced players over them?

Pearce's primary objective is to bring through talented youngsters and develop them into first-teamers. Winning trophies is not. With certain players who have already achieved full international caps, there is no harm in bringing them back into the fold.

Jordan Henderson, Kieran Gibbs and Danny Welbeck would all benefit from being selected for the competition. While they all gained their caps on merit, it has to be said that there was no real intention for Capello to bed them in from that point onwards.

Having become England's youngest-ever defender back in 2006, dropping down a level has done Micah Richards the world of good. The Under-21 skipper will be the country's number one right-back sooner rather than later and his progress signifies how much can be attained from spending time in both set-ups.

The feeling with Wilshere, Walcott and Carroll is that they won't ever need to take a step back. For those two weeks in June, they should take a proper break elsewhere. It's within everybody's best interests.

Source: DSG

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