Fabio Capello is on course for a major disagreement with Arsène Wenger over plans to play Jack Wilshere against the Netherlands in Wednesday's friendly, despite the Arsenal manager's reservations about the midfielder's fitness.
Wenger said on Friday night after Arsenal's friendly against Benfica that Wilshere would not play in the match regardless of whether Capello picked the 19-year-old in the squad. "They [England] can include him as much as they want, he will not play," the Arsenal manager said, setting the tone for what could be an awkward few days.
Wilshere was due to join up with the rest of the England squad at their Hertfordshire headquarters last night. As far as the Capello camp understands, the player is ready and willing to play on Wednesday and will be assessed by the medical department this morning. His injury is an inflammation of his ankle which forced him to come off early in the friendly against New York Red Bulls eight days ago.
Wenger's concern is not simply the start of Arsenal's Premier League season but the two-legged Champions League qualifier against Udinese later this month. Having conceded Wilshere did not have to play in the European Under-21 Championship in June, Capello is keen that he plays for England in what will be an important three months for the national team.
The Capello camp have promised Arsenal they will not take any risks with Wilshere, but they hope the player will make it easier for them by telling his club he is fit and wants to play. Although Premier League managers are united in their opposition to the friendly, Capello and his staff are determined to ensure there are not mass withdrawals over the next 24 hours.
The Tottenham Hotspur right-back Kyle Walker is expected to be given his first start in Wednesday's game. Glen Johnson was substituted with an injury early in Liverpool's friendly against Valencia on Saturday and is not in the squad. The England medical staff also have injury concerns over Peter Crouch, who has a back problem. He will be assessed this morning and wants to play a part despite being consistently overlooked by Capello since the World Cup last summer.
Danny Welbeck, called up to the England squad by Capello, injured his ankle in yesterday's Community Shield game and Sir Alex Ferguson cast doubt on whether he would play for England.
Capello is confident Andy Carroll is fit to play, having watched him on Saturday. Nevertheless, Capello left Darren Bent out of the squad because of a shoulder problem that means he is not fit. Bent said on Twitter yesterday: "Gutted I had to pull out of the England squad, and want to make sure I'm fully fit for the big KO next week." Capello watched Bobby Zamora play for Fulham in last week's Europa League qualifier and is not convinced he is fully fit yet.
Joey Barton yesterday said he had not given hope of playing for England, even though Capello described him as a "dangerous player" – and not necessarily in a good way. On Twitter, Barton said: "On the plus side at least Capello knows who I am." He added: "My goal is to get in that Euro 2012 squad and team for the Olympics, all I can do is more of what I did last season; if it's enough, it's enough." And in another tweet: "To even be mentioned in the reckoning, is a testament to how far I've come since my troubled years, looking forward to pushing for a place."
England squad: J Hart (Manchester City), R Green (West Ham United), D Stockdale (Ipswich Town-loan) ; L Baines (Everton), G Cahill (Bolton Wanderers), A Cole (Chelsea), R Ferdinand (Manchester United), P Jagielka (Everton), J Lescott (Manchester City), M Richards (Manchester City), J Terry (Chelsea), K Walker (Tottenham Hotspur); G Barry (Manchester City), M Carrick (Manchester United), S Downing (Liverpool), A Johnson (Manchester City), F Lampard (Chelsea), J Milner (Manchester City), S Parker (West Ham United), J Wilshere (Arsenal), A Young (Manchester United); A Carroll (Liverpool), P Crouch (Tottenham Hotspur), W Rooney (Manchester United), D Welbeck (Manchester United).
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