Pearce defends duo’s inclusion

Pearce defied opposition from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to

select Wilshere in an initial 40-man party for this summer’s

European Under-21 Championship in Denmark, with Liverpool striker

Carroll’s selection also controversial. Both players are on the

brink of becoming established senior internationals and there have

been fears about Wilshere being burnt out – but Pearce has been

determined to take the strongest possible squad with him this

summer. He said: “I’ve been involved in football a long time but

I’ve never actually seen a team that gets to a final then decides

to drop their best players. I think that’s quite silly. “I

certainly think football’s about gaining experience at whatever

level you have to play and when I look back over the previous

winners of the under-21 tournament over maybe the last 15 years,

all of those winners, if you look a couple of years further on,

their national sides at senior level have done particularly well.

“I look at the Germans at under-21 level, the champions two years

ago, and their team went on to a (World Cup) semi-final. Italy went

on and won it if you track back six or seven years – the under-21s

were champions twice in a row. The Spanish did the same. “You have

to be successful at these younger age groups to have any chance at

senior level.” Pearce attempted to contact Wenger about Wilshere’s

inclusion prior to naming his squad and revealed he would attempt

to do so again. But he hinted he was confident Liverpool boss Kenny

Dalglish would not have a problem with Carroll’s selection by

confirming he had no plans to speak to any other manager. “I’ve

spoken with the players and the important thing is obviously the

players,” Pearce said. “I’ll be speaking to any relevant managers

that I deem necessary. “With Andy Carroll, I don’t think there’s a

relevance, really, to speak with the manager there to be quite

honest with you. “I think Jack Wilshere’s a different situation. I

think I will have a conversation with Arsene with respect to him

and outline my viewpoint on that. “But I think the most important

thing is England go with a very strong side and a strong squad and

hopefully that stands the players in good stead in the future when

they step on the pitch for the senior team.” Wenger has suggested

Wilshere would not be match fit for England’s senior matches early

next season were he to travel to Denmark. Pearce said: “That’s a

long way ahead, isn’t it? “I spoke with Arsene two years ago at

this stage of the season about Theo Walcott. “We had a conversation

in regard to him playing in the summer for the under-21s and then

the following year playing for the senior team in South Africa.

“Now, he wasn’t picked for the senior team a year down the line.

“That’s the incredible thing in football – you don’t know what’s in

the future. “The one thing you do know in the future is when you

step on the pitch and go to a major tournament with the senior

team, the more experience you have at under-21, at under-19 level

of tournament football, the better stead it will stand you in.”

Wilshere and Carroll were among six players named in the squad to

have been capped at senior level, along with Danny Welbeck, Jordan

Henderson, Micah Richards and Kieran Gibbs. The 40-man party

announced today will be reduced to 23 by June 1, four days before

England play their final pre-tournament friendly against Norway in

Southampton. Their Under-21 Championship campaign begins a week

later against Spain in Herning, where they will also face Ukraine

three days after that before taking on Czech Republic in Viborg on

June 19. The top two in the group will progress to the semi-finals,

with the final taking place on June 25.