England under-21 coach plays down potential row

England Under-21 assistant manager Steve Wigley has played down any talk of a potential club v country battle ahead of the European Under-21 Championships this summer.

Reports had suggested manager Stuart Pearce was risking the wrath of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish by intending to call up Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll.

But Wigley, speaking at a Tesco Skills Session at the headquarters of the Lancashire FA, quickly quashed any suggestion of unrest between England and any of the clubs, insisting there is ongoing communication between them.

"Stuart and Fabio are always speaking to the clubs," he said. "Stuart was in dialogue with all the clubs in advance of this meet up and there is a constant dialogue.

"At any stage we all take into account the club position.

"They [Wilshere and Carroll] have both featured in the campaign that has got us here, they are good players."

Questions about Carroll and Wilshere, now both part of the senior squad, first arose after they were included in a squad meeting, but Wigley insisted they were simply part of a gathering of all of the talent available to Pearce come the summer.

"We had a squad of 35 lads together the other day, including the players who have been injured," he added. "When you see the strength of that group we have got some great players."

England reached the semi-finals in 2007 and lost 4-0 to Germany in the final two years ago. They are currently the top ranked squad in Europe according to UEFA.

A 4-0 victory over Denmark, the hosts of the upcoming championships, confirms their status as favourites, but Wigley believes there is still room for improvement.

"We're starting to get a picture of where we are at," he said.

"I would describe it [the win against Denmark] as a work in progress. We were never going to lose the game at any time I felt, but we can play better and since we've qualified the squad has been very fragmented, which you expect to happen because some players needed rest."

Captain Micah Richards suffered a hamstring injury in the early stages which could rule him out for a number of weeks, meaning he will be touch and go for the all Manchester FA Cup semi-final on April 16.

And injuries are something that former Southampton manager Wigley feels could affect the make up of the squad before their first game of the tournament against Spain on June 12.

"If you were to write your squad today, I guarantee it would be a lot different come May," he said.

"Within any squad there will be people who have embedded themselves in it, but there is always room for someone to come along and surprise us."

Richards' injury means he joins a long line of players currently on the sidelines, with the likes of Stephen Kelly, Jack Rodwell, Michael Mancienne and Phil Jones all currently unavailable for selection.

Comments