Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pearce hopes to retain Wilshere

Jack Wilshere training with the England Under-21 squad at Carrow Road
Wilshere won his first senior cap in the friendly win against Hungary in August

Stuart Pearce believes Jack Wilshere could stay in England's Under-21 squad for both legs of the European Championship play-off against Romania.

Wilshere, 18, is due to play for Pearce's side in Friday's first leg and then join up with Fabio Capello's full squad, who play Montenegro on Tuesday.

But Pearce said the Arsenal man could actually stay with his group if that is deemed to be in his best interests.

"[The decision] is not for personal gain for me or Fabio," Pearce said.

"What we have tried to achieve, certainly at the younger age groups, is to upgrade the players if they're going to go in and play.

"If they are not going to play, leave them in the age group where they can actually play 90 minutes and get 90 minutes' experience."


Wilshere, who has already made 10 appearances in the Arsenal midfield this season, is likely to be a key player as Pearce's Under-21 look to establish a lead at Carrow Road to take back to the Romanian city of Botosani for Tuesday's second leg.

However, after that his immediate future is less certain with Pearce keen to retain him despite Capello having included him in the squad to face Montenegro in a qualifier for Euro 2012 at Wembley.

Wilshere's club manager Arsene Wenger recently warned England not to mess the 18-year-old around and Pearce has admitted that he and Capello face a delicate balancing act.

"I will speak with Fabio and, inevitably, the decision on what happens to Jack will rest on Fabio," stated Pearce.

"But whatever decision Fabio, and probably after discussions with myself, comes to, it is for the benefit of the player, really, and the advancement of the player.

"Obviously if Fabio needs him the seniors take precedence."

Other than the players who were forced out of the squad through injury - Manchester City defender Micah Richards, Huddersfield goalkeeper Alex Smithies and Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs - Pearce has no new injury worries.

Pearce is hoping the atmosphere generated by the sell-out crowd at Carrow Road will help lift his players.

"That is part of the reason we took the game to Norwich when we were hoping to be in the play-offs. It will be a big game for the country at this level."

But Pearce insisted there will be no complacency from his team.

"I would say it is a 50/50 swing in this game. They have won their group and we have finished runners-up," he said.

"We feel it is going to be two very difficult matches for us. Romania are one of the strongest sides in Europe, so we know we have got our work cut out."

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