Nicklas Bendtner fears the damage that his Arsenal team-mate Jack Wilshere can do to his Danish side tonight; and he also fears what the England management might do to young Jack, having built him up so much in recent days.
Bendtner will lead the Danish line tonight at the Parken Stadium, where the roof will be closed to aid England's preparations for playing at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on 26 March. Yesterday he spoke with insight about the international prospects of 19-year-old Wilshere, who is to make his first start for England, and expressed the hope that his development will be handled better than Theo Walcott's was.
The signs so far are not encouraging. Fabio Capello yesterday described Wilshere as playing with "confidence, and never with fear. It's incredible for someone so young." A ringing endorsement for a player who so far has only seven minutes of international football to his name.
Wilshere made his full England debut in August, coming on as an 83rd-minute substitute for Steven Gerrard against Hungary, and six months later Capello is happy to lead the chorus hailing the 19-year-old midfielder as the future of the team.
Bendtner, however, urged caution, having seen what damage can be done by England's selection policy when players are in the squad and then dropped, seemingly on a whim. The Dane used the example of Theo Walcott, who went to the World Cup in 2006 when he was a raw 17-year-old, selected ahead of the likes of Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe, only to miss out four years later when Capello picked his 23 for South Africa.
Bendtner said: "Jack Wilshere has done fantastically for Arsenal this season. He has shown his quality early on and he can be a great, great player for Arsenal and England. Jack is developing all the time.
"Young players are always put under a lot of pressure very early in England. You always throw players around really quickly. Jack has got potential. I have my own theories on how Theo Walcott was treated by England, but I don't want to get too much into that because it will probably just get me in trouble. But Theo can be a lesson for the way you treat Jack. It's important to take it easy and realise he is a kid. He's still young even though he seems very mature."
It is not often you find yourself agreeing with Bendtner – who recently moaned about how much he has had to sacrificed to be a professional footballer, such as missing out on skiing holidays – but this was an exception.
All eyes will be on Wilshere's performance tonight. Capello sees the Arsenal man as a holding midfielder, a player to sit in front of the back four and orchestrate England's attacks from deep. Some think such a role is potentially a waste of Wilshere's talent, but Capello was adamant yesterday.
"An intelligent player can play anywhere. If he plays a lot of games for England, he'll be really important. We'll have found a solution for the player in front of the back four," Capello said. The Italian also likened Wilshere to three of the finest players he has ever managed – "[Franco] Baresi, [Paolo] Maldini and Raul, these players started really young."
Bendtner, however, agrees with those who believe Wilshere might be better served playing further forward. "Jack has got more than just being a holding midfielder. He's got good feet, he's good with the ball and he can also pick out a pass," he said.
Bendtner, who was 18 when he made his international debut in August 2006, is at something of a crossroads in his own career, having failed to nail down a starting place at Arsenal this season. He said he will ask to leave in the summer if the situation does not improve.
He said: "If I cannot play at Arsenal, then I do not want to sit on the bench. I am at a stage of my career now where I should play every game. I would be sad to leave, but you have to think about yourself."
Team-mate Thomas Sorensen said Bendtner had matured in recent years. "He's made mistakes in the team, in training and he's had a fair amount of bollockings from the manager but he seems to pick it up and that's what you want to see," he said.
Wilshere will be up against 18-year-old prodigy Christian Eriksen, who is already being compared to the legendary Michael Laudrup. An attacking midfielder, he broke into the Ajax first team last season, and has attracted admiring eyes from Liverpool.
Denmark will also feature defender Simon Kjaer, who moved to Wolfsburg last summer but still has Premier League aspirations, while midfield anchor William Kvist is the impressive captain of FC Copenhagen.
Nicklas Bendtner has been moaning about things footballers can't do. He is not alone:
Ian Wright The former Arsenal forward was not able to ride his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Andy Goram Goalkeeper was forced to give up cricket to protect his hands.
Ryan Giggs Gave up sportscars after the stress placed on his hamstrings.
Steve Ogrizovic Ordered to give up smoking by Coventry.
Carlo Cudicini Warned off motorbikes following a crash.Reuse content