Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere remains on Team GB Olympics list


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The Independent Online

Jack Wilshere remains on Great Britain's 80-man list of contenders to feature at this summer's Olympics.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed last week that Wilshere would miss Euro 2012 after failing to recover from an ankle injury that has kept him out of the entire season.

It was also suggested Wilshere would not be available for the Olympics, which would have been a back-up option for the 20-year-old, who had previously admitted he would relish the chance to be involved.

However, Wilshere was in the 80-man provisional squad Pearce selected last week.

And the Great Britain coach has confirmed he will not rule anyone out until he is satisfied they cannot play, even if the odds on Wilshere making the final 18-man squad appear extremely remote.

"He is on the shortlist," said Pearce.

"We will look at everyone individually and check their fitness and the medical people will speak with the clubs.

"We do have to be acutely aware that with an 18-man squad, and possibly six matches in 16 days, all the players are fully fit.

"You can't be losing two or three to injury, otherwise you will be on the back foot."

The news is bound to alarm Wenger who, like Sir Alex Ferguson, is not convinced by the merits of Olympic competition in the first place.

Ferguson has already spoken of the havoc that could be caused to Manchester United's pre-season preparation by a large number of British call-ups, in addition to David de Gea and Javier Hernandez, who will be playing for Spain and Mexico respectively.

However, Pearce believes this attitude undermines the merits of a tournament which it is now known will pitch Britain into battle with Senegal, UAE and Uruguay following today's group stage draw at Wembley.

"I am acutely aware that club managers have a duty of care to their individual clubs," said Pearce.

"But once the tournament starts, excitement will be generated and people will see the greater good it will do for the individual players and the feelgood factor it brings.

"Plus we will be returning the players to their clubs before the season starts, so all they will be missing are pre-season friendlies.

"If I was a player, I would much prefer to be playing at Old Trafford, Wembley and the Millennium Stadium, competing for a medal and then going back to my club.

"The lift that would give me would be fantastic."

Pearce was not strictly accurate in his observations as the lowest ranked of the three English teams involved in Europa League, and even more for Scotland, will have matches that directly clash with the Olympics.

Nevertheless, Senegal proved in their play-off with Oman in Coventry last night that they are a decent team, whilst Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan are two of the more obvious potential over-23s available to Uruguay, who will meet Britain in Cardiff on August 1.

Doing homework on that opposition merely provides Pearce with additional work as he is presently also combining duties as interim England coach until such time as Fabio Capello's successor is named.

As Pearce stated a Euro 2012 squad will be announced on May 10, presumably that day is drawing near, unless he is asked to do the job of course, which the former Three Lions skipper insists would not be a problem.

"I don't think it would be difficult," he said.

"The pre-planning for the Euros is already done, so whether it is me or the next man through the door, it is all in place.

"I am ready to take the team to the Euros. It will put me in tournament mode, which I actually see as a benefit, not a hindrance."

And, like female counterpart Hope Powell, Pearce insists no pressure has been applied when it comes to selecting non-Englishmen in his squad.

"I have 80 names on a shortish list and from that I will pick 18 players and four to go on standby," he said.

"It is of no consideration to me what nationality they are.

"I will pick the strongest squad possible.

"They are all very talented but I want to bring a squad together I think could bring us a gold medal."