Stuart Pearce singles out Arsene Wenger regarding selection issues

Stuart Pearce has singled out Arsene Wenger as being the only manager to ever give him grief over his selection policy for the England Under-21 team.

Pearce yesterday risked the wrath of Arsenal boss Wenger by picking Jack Wilshere in his provisional squad for this summer's European Under-21 Championship.

Wenger has been vocally opposed to Wilshere's inclusion, claiming he should now be considered a senior international amid fears the 19-year-old could suffer burnout.

Pearce insisted yesterday Wilshere's involvement was in the best interests of both the player and the country.

He revealed he would speak to Wenger to state his case for picking the midfielder but was adamant he would not be swayed by any counter-argument.

Pearce, who took charge of the under-21s in 2007, said: "Over a four-year period, I have only ever heard Arsene Wenger's name mentioned in respect to this.

"Two years ago, I had the same conversation about Theo Walcott and 'Did he need to go an Under-21 tournament?'

"The proviso was then that there was a World Cup coming up in South Africa and he would be burnt out.

"Then Theo didn't make the squad for South Africa."

He added: "We talk about burnout and I have to bring my own experiences as a player to the fore.

"By the time I was 21, I had played 250 non-League games. I then played until I was 40.

"I played a full set of internationals. I probably played 1,000 matches in my career.

"What I can tell these young players or senior ones is: play football - it says it in your contract.

"That's your job title, that's what everybody knows you for.

"The beauty I have with Wilshere is that he loves football.

"He reminds me of (Paul) Gascoigne."

Andy Carroll was another controversial inclusion in Pearce's initial 40-man party, which must be whittled down to 23 names by June 1.

Pearce said: "I've got 21 names at the moment in my mind.

"Probably two individuals will be down to positional scenarios that I need to look at and speak with my staff about."

Wilshere and Carroll were among six players named in yesterday's squad who had been capped at senior level, along with Danny Welbeck, Jordan Henderson, Micah Richards and Kieran Gibbs.

England's final warm-up game for the finals in Denmark will take place against Norway on Sunday, June 5, just a day after the senior squad's European Championship qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley, a game in which Wilshere and Carroll are both likely to feature.

Pearce confirmed neither would take part in the Norway friendly in Southampton were that to be the case and would be given a three-day break before linking up with the under-21 squad.

England's Under-21 Championship campaign begins a week later against Spain in Herning, where they will also face Ukraine three days after that before taking on Czech Republic in Viborg on June 19.

The top two in the group will progress to the semi-finals, with the final taking place on June 25.

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