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Arsenal ace won’t play in Under-21 tournament

England's Jack Wilshere (centre) replaces team mate Steven Gerrard. Picture: Mike Egerton/EMPICS England's Jack Wilshere (centre) replaces team mate Steven Gerrard. Picture: Mike Egerton/EMPICS

Friday, February 1, 2013
8:11 AM

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will be exempt from summer duty at the European Under-21 Championship.

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England’s squad for next Wednesday’s friendly with Brazil at Wembley, which was announced yesterday, was missing many of the youngsters who have made such progress on the international scene.

Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha were instead picked in Stuart Pearce’s squad for Tuesday’s Under-21 encounter with Sweden at Walsall on Tuesday.

The reasoning is simple.

Whilst Hodgson believes all five have exciting futures at senior level, he believes they would benefit hugely from gaining tournament experience in Israel this summer.

But there are some he feels have gone beyond such exertions.

Danny Welbeck looks to be one. And Wilshere definitely is, even though he only celebrated his 21st birthday on January 1.

“It is not right to compare Jack with Zaha, Sterling and Shelvey, etc,” Hodgson said.

“You have to give Wilshere the credit that he has established himself as a bona-fide first-team player.

“He will play against Ireland in May and come with us to Brazil after that.”

Yet whilst Wilshere will avoid being at the centre of a club-versus-country row, the regularity with which the other five have played for their clubs this season is such that objections seem certain to be raised on the basis of potential burnout.

“I don’t understand the burnout argument in that respect,” Hodgson said.

“Tournaments are played at the end of a football season. How do you avoid the players not having played a long season before, unless it is being suggested that anyone picked doesn’t play for their clubs for five or six weeks beforehand? I don’t think that would be very popular.

“We have spoken before about the intensity of the English season and how that impacts on us compared to other nations.

“But the Under-21 tournament finishes in the middle of June. I don’t think the Premier League kicks off again in the middle of August.

“Two months is a long time. Quite a lot of people in normal jobs wouldn’t mind two months of not having any real pressure to perform.

“Every club will try to protect its players and international matches do impact on clubs.

“That is a conundrum no-one can solve and will exist from now until the end of footballing time.”

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