Wenger: Wilshere will be on a beach – not getting fit for England

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger has said that if England pick Jack Wilshere for the European Under-21 Championship they will be unable to use him for the senior internationals in late summer.

The Arsenal manager accepts that he is powerless to prevent Wilshere's involvement in Denmark in June, but said yesterday that his subsequent rest period would rule him out of England's friendly in August and maybe even their Euro qualifiers in September.

Wilshere's possible participation in Denmark this summer has been a contentious issue. Given the 19-year-old midfielder's promotion to win four caps for the senior side, Wenger has argued against his returning to the U-21 side. Wilshere, however, is keen to play, and Fifa rules compel Wenger to allow him. "If they want to use Jack I cannot do anything about it," Wenger said yesterday, before warning that it would jeopardise the player's autumn availability.

"If the Under-21s go to the end of the tournament I will have to give four to six weeks [holiday] to the player," Wenger said. "That means he might not be available for the friendly nor the qualifier because he won't be ready. England has a choice to make there." England play a friendly against the Netherlands on 10 August, before Euro qualifiers against Bulgaria and Wales on 2 September and 6 September respectively. The U-21 Championship ends on 25 June.

Wenger said that both the regulations, and the requirements of the players themselves, were on his side. "It is a bit of a grey area but the rules from Fifa are that you have to give four weeks' holiday to a player, it is compulsory," he said. "And I always do it, I give a minimum of four weeks. For example our players playing in international games come back on 6 July, if they play on 6 June or, for some, on 4 June. We have to respect that. I can understand that the boy wants to go but they have as well maybe to consider that he will not be fit enough to play, certainly for the friendly in August, and he should be short for the qualifier in September."

Arsenal host Liverpool in the Premier League tomorrow, knowing that a win would move them to within four points of the leaders Manchester United. Wenger was positive yesterday about his team's performances over the season, despite a disappointing spring so far. "This team is focused," he said. "I told you many times I'm very proud to manage this team because they are focused, they want to do well. Unfortunately we have been hit very hard but we have not been [put] out of every competition early on having not performed.

"This team has given absolutely everything to perform in every competition and we are still today in the championship."

Even the defeats Arsenal suffered, particularly the Champions League elimination by Barcelona, were not without positives in the manager's eyes. "We lost against Barcelona by just a goal," he pointed out, "you have seen the other games in the Champions League. We did not lose against them with an ugly performance, we produced in the two games what we could and we did as well as we could against maybe the best team at the moment in the world. Nobody takes into consideration that in football you lose sometimes, but it is how well you lose."

Wenger confirmed that Wojciech Szczesny is back in training and could be selected tomorrow. Johan Djourou and Alex Song are also both available again while the Belgian centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, who has not played for Arsenal since August, has returned to full training.

Arsenal's Run-In

Remaining fixtures

Liverpool (h): Tomorrow

Tottenham (a): Wednesday

Bolton (a): 24 April

Manchester Utd (h): 1 May

Stoke (a): 8 May

Aston Villa (h): 15 May

Fulham (a): 22 May

Comments