Arsenal warn England over the risk of injury to 'tired' Wilshere


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The Independent Online

Arsenal have raised the stakes in their campaign to persuade the Football Association not to take Jack Wilshere to the Under-21s European Championships next month by disclosing playing-time statistics that they believe make him a severe injury risk.

The Under-21s manager, Stuart Pearce, will name his 23-man squad for the tournament on Monday and has indicated to the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, this week that Wilshere will be included – although the Liverpool striker Andy Carroll will not. However, the situation is changing day to day with Wilshere himself becoming increasingly concerned that he could do himself long-term damage.

Staff at Arsenal have compiled a report on Wilshere's Prozone statistics, the computer software that tracks players' total movements for a game, as well as medical reports on his condition. They believe that the evidence shows that Wilshere is so exhausted from his 57-game season – his first full campaign at Arsenal – that he is in danger of sustaining a long-term injury.

Sports scientists at Arsenal say that Wilshere has shown a "significant dip" in recent weeks. Indeed, a virtual ever-present for most of the season, he was substitute for the game against Spurs on 20 April. Wilshere's Prozone statistics reveal that he has covered much less ground than he did during the course of a game in recent weeks than he did at the start of the season.

Arsenal have made the case to the FA that Wilshere needs rest next month and a carefully considered pre-season training programme to prepare him for the rigours of next season and – providing England qualify – the Euro 2012 tournament that will follow the domestic season next summer.

Should he play for the Under-21s this summer he will virtually go from the senior England team's 4 June Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland straight into pre-tournament preparation with the Under-21s who play their first game against Spain on 12 June. Up until now it has been Wilshere's insistence that he wants to play in the Under-21s tournament that has been the decisive factor in the saga. Wenger is powerless either way – Fifa statutes on international football rule that clubs have to release players – but the suggestion that the player is now wavering is very telling. Arsenal are expected to keep up negotiations with Pearce and the FA over the weekend, with the Wilshere issue the reason for the delay in the squad announcement.