Wenger: U21s a step back for Jack

BY foxsports • April 1, 2011

But the Arsenal manager stressed that he will support whatever final decision is taken in the summer. Wilshere, 19, made his first senior England competitive start in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales last weekend, and was again named in Fabio Capello's XI for Tuesday night's friendly with Ghana at Wembley. England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce is keen for the combative midfielder to be part of his group in Denmark in June - a month which also sees another Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley. Wilshere himself has spoken of his desire to be involved for England at any level, and hopes an amicable agreement can be reached. Wenger, though, is acutely aware of the risk of player burnout, as Wilshere could have chalked up almost 60 games in total when he finally has a break. The Gunners boss also saw Theo Walcott go through a similar club versus country row when he went to the 2009 Under-21 European Championship, but ended up being only a bit-part player. However, Wenger accepts that ultimately there is little he can do about the situation, with the "final word" laying firmly in the hands of the Football Association. "It's normal Jack wants to play. That's more positive than negative," Wenger said. "After that, basically the youth system is made to promote the players for the top team and once they are in the top team I don't see a basic need to go back. "Wilshere looks to be a promising player for the first national team and for Arsenal, so the interest of the FA and Arsenal is to give him the right protection." Wenger continued: "Why do you produce a youth system? It is to get them ready to be playing in the first team. Once they play in the first team, your job has been done so you can promote other players. "Unless you say we want to go for national pride and ego, so we just play our best players in this tournament, then it is defendable, but that is not basically why the youth teams have been created - the basic target is to get the players ready to play in the first team, once they play there it is less useful. "If England thinks that Jack Wilshere is not ready to play for the first team completely and he needs to play in the Under 21s, that you can defend. "If they are convinced he is a first team player, then it is debatable." Wenger, though, was also at pains to stress that Wilshere's current focus must, along with everyone else at Arsenal, be on completing their own domestic season as Premier League winners. "For us at the moment it is important not to create a debate on that and just focus on the championship. We have to sort that problem out at the end of the season with the FA," he said. "It is normal that you play many games, but there is a number you have to respect and make sure you do not make a mistake with a promising player." Wenger concluded: "At the end of the day, the FA have the final word because they have the rules for them." Arsenal have been fortunate over the international break to see returning players like Holland striker Robin van Persie shrug off minor knocks to be in contention against Blackburn on Saturday. Captain Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and Walcott are also now match fit following injury lay-off. Wenger, though, accepts Arsenal can have no more off days if they are to overhaul Manchester United in the championship race. He said: "Our target is to continue our unbeaten run and to win again because we haven't beaten Sunderland or West Brom. "Of course it's important to have the good basis of an unbeaten run, but what will make the difference is the three points."

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