Saturday 16 December 2017

Wenger baffled by Pearce's plans for Carroll and Wilshere

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Arsene Wenger has said that there would be "no logic" to a decision to rest Andy Carroll for the European U-21 Championship while including Jack Wilshere.

Stuart Pearce is thought likely to exclude Andy Carroll from his 23-man squad on grounds of fatigue.

Wenger has opposed Wilshere's summer participation all season due to concerns over burnout, and he said it would be a "dangerous game" should Pearce exempt one, but not the other.

Pearce will, on Monday, whittle his 40-man squad down to the 23 who will travel to Denmark. Carroll, Liverpool's £35m striker signed from Newcastle in January, is unlikely to be chosen. Given that Wilshere has played 49 club games this season, and Carroll 29, Wenger was baffled as to why his player would not be rested.

"It's quite surprising," he said. "If you look at the number of games Carroll and Wilshere have played. I could understand that Carroll doesn't go for some injury problems. For fatigue problems, it will be more difficult to convince people in England that he is more tired than Jack Wilshere."

Wenger predicted that the double-standards apparent in resting Carroll, but not Wilshere would cause problems for Pearce. "He will be concerned, Pearce, to leave Carroll behind," the Arsenal manager said. "I don't think he will do it, because he knows that's opening the door for many other complaints behind that. Because the players as well will react like: 'If he doesn't go, why do I go?'"

Asked whether he would be brisk in complaining to the English FA, Wenger said his reaction would rather be bemusement. "I would be maybe not first on the phone," he said, "but I would think there's no logic in the attitude of selection."

Under FIFA rules there is nothing Arsenal can do to prevent Wilshere's participation after his selection by the FA. Wenger repeated his belief, though, that a summer tournament was not the best way to follow Wilshere's first full season, in which he has played so many games.

"We have to accept and respect the choice, even if I think it is the wrong decision," he said. "Jack Wilshere is in the red for a while now and this can be a risk for his health."

Wenger has had no assurances on the extent of Wilshere's involvement, although he said that "you have to leave the freedom to the manager." He repeated his warning to England that playing for the U-21s would preclude Wilshere's playing for the seniors against Holland on August 10. "They know that he will not be available for the friendly," he said.

Wilshere will need "at least three weeks preparation" dating from his return to training before he can play first team football. Should he start pre-season on Monday, July 25 his three weeks of pre-season would end on August 15. The Premier League begins on August 13, and Wenger said Wilshere's participation then was "very unlikely." One week after the Holland game is the Champions League play-off, in which Arsenal will have to play should they finish fourth in the league.

The examples of Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas give Wenger more reason to be cautious. Both played in the World Cup final last summer and had their subsequent seasons curtailed by injury. "It is not a coincidence that the two players played less games than what we were expected were both in the final of the World Cup," Wenger said. "Both of them have had problems physically." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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