Pearce points finger at Wenger over U21 selection

04 May 2011 09:00

Stuart Pearce has singled out Arsene Wenger as being the only manager to ever give him grief over his selection policy for the England Under-21 team.

Pearce risked the wrath of Arsenal boss Wenger by picking Jack Wilshere in his provisional squad for this summer's European Under-21 Championship. Wenger has been vocally opposed to Wilshere's inclusion, claiming he should now be considered a senior international amid fears the 19-year-old could suffer burnout.

Pearce, who took charge of the under-21s in 2007, said: "Over a four-year period, I have only ever heard Arsene Wenger's name mentioned in respect to this."

Pearce insisted Wilshere's involvement was in the best interests of both the player and the country. He revealed he would speak to Wenger to state his case for picking the midfielder but was adamant he would not be swayed by any counter-argument.

He added: "Two years ago, I had the same conversation about Theo Walcott and 'Did he need to go an Under-21 tournament'? The proviso was then that there was a World Cup coming up in South Africa and he would be burnt out. Then Theo didn't make the squad for South Africa.

"We talk about burnout and I have to bring my own experiences as a player to the fore.

"By the time I was 21, I had played 250 non-League games. I then played until I was 40. I played a full set of internationals. I probably played 1,000 matches in my career.

"What I can tell these young players or senior ones is: play football - it says it in your contract. That's your job title, that's what everybody knows you for.

"The beauty I have with Wilshere is that he loves football. He reminds me of (Paul) Gascoigne."

Andy Carroll was another controversial inclusion in Pearce's initial 40-man party, which must be whittled down to 23 names by June 1.

Source: PA

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