FA heads for Under-21s row with clubs over Wilshere and Carroll


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The Independent Football

There is a potential dispute brewing between the Football Association and three of England's major clubs over the plans to use Jack Wilshere, Andy Carroll and Kyle Walker in the England Under-21 team that will play at the European Championship in Denmark this summer.

All three are members of Fabio Capello's senior squad that faces Wales tomorrow in the Euro 2012 qualifier at the Millennium Stadium. Wilshere will start the game while Carroll is in contention and Walker, the Tottenham right-back on loan at Aston Villa this season, has been selected by Capello in his last two squads.

Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs are all understood to be concerned about the announcement on Wednesday by Under-21s manager Stuart Pearce – whose side beat Denmark 4-0 last night – that he intended to select all three for the tournament. Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, criticised the FA and Pearce for selecting Theo Walcott for the same tournament two years ago.

This summer's tournament lasts from 11 June to 25 June, with the prospect of all three players also being called up for the senior squad to play against Switzerland on 4 June, the last Euro 2012 qualifier of this season. Pearce outlined his intention to pick all three on Wednesday, saying that he needed "the best players available" and wanted "to win something".

It is not thought that there have been any discussions with the clubs about moving Wilshere, Carroll and Walker down from the seniors. Pearce has said in the past that Wilshere wants to play in this summer's tournament, having had a role in qualifying. Carroll's record with the Under-21s is mixed and he was left out of a senior squad for having failed to report to the Under-21s to have an injury checked.

Having been told they were forbidden from playing golf at the course adjoining their hotel on Wednesday, Gareth Barry said this week that the austere mood around the England camp has eased up since the World Cup finals last summer. While the strict regime of rest in their hotel rooms has not changed, the mood around Capello seems to have lightened.

"I think the players seem a bit more relaxed around the manager," Barry said. "There was talk [then] about team meetings and players turning up 20 minutes before. It just seems the players are a bit more relaxed around the manager [now]. Everyone seems to know him a lot more rather than when he first came in... there was a bit more pressure [then] on the players to be everywhere, spot-on the right time.

"I think the rules are still there and the players are still respecting them. But the players aren't on their toes looking over their shoulders, [thinking] 'Is the manager watching?' We can relax a bit more. The manager is not going to be on us 24-7."

The Wales manager, Gary Speed, has named Aaron Ramsey as the new captain of his team, making the 20-year-old Wales' youngest-ever permanent appointment. But yesterday was dominated by Gareth Bale's withdrawal from tomorrow's game with a hamstring injury. Yet Speed said the Tottenham winger was not a doubt to play against Real Madrid in the Champions League a week on Tuesday.

Although Bale has proved in the past a player who errs on the side of caution when it comes to injuries, Speed said yesterday it would have been impossible for the winger to play tomorrow. He had not trained for the previous two days, having reported with the problem, which he picked up in Spurs' game against West Ham on Saturday.

Bale did not train on Sunday, Monday or Wednesday and only did a warm-up on Tuesday. His scan results, Speed said, revealed that the injury was picked up at the weekend. "I'm sure Gareth will play next week," Speed said. "I think you can tell on scans now, with the fluid and the blood that it was an injury from last week. We do our utmost here to look after players and Gareth is the most important person in this scenario, so it was decided he wouldn't play Saturday.

"I'm no expert but I'm sure it's only a 10-day thing," Speed added. "The most important thing is Gareth Bale and the next three and a half years. The next three days are very important but the relationship with Spurs and the player in the future are very important."

Bale will stay in Cardiff to have treatment and will be at the game tomorrow. "It's a big blow," Speed said. "Any team in the world would miss a Gareth Bale but between now and the next three and a half years we're going to miss players, and if Wales are going to achieve anything we're going to have to cope with missing players like Gareth."