Jack Wilshere ‘wants to play for England this summer’

ENGLAND Under-21s boss Stuart Pearce has hit back at critics who say Jack Wilshere should be rested this summer by claiming the Arsenal starlet WANTS to play in next month’s European Under-21 championships, writes Jem Maidment.

Pearce picked the Gunners midfielder, who has broken into the full senior team this season both at club and international level, in his 40-man preliminary squad this week. That number will be whittled down to 23 on June 1 – a week before they travel to Denmark to prepare for the tournament and 12 days before their opening game against Spain on June 12.

Arsenal duo Kieran Gibbs and Henri Lansbury, who has been on loan at Premier League-bound Norwich City this season, are also in the squad.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger wants Wilshere to be left out this summer after a gruelling first full Premier League season and former Arsenal and England Under-21 midfielder Stewart Robson told the Ham&High last month that Wilshere should resist Pearce and take some time off.

But Pearce remained bullish yesterday, saying: “Two years ago I had the same conversation with Arsene Wenger about Theo Walcott – he told me if he went to the Under-21s then he would be tired for the World Cup.

“But he didn’t go to the World Cup so what do we do? The same thing happened with David Bentley. How do you plan in advance for that?”

Pearce also rubbished claims Wilshere could be burnt out next season, adding: “When I was 21-years-old I played 250 non-league games and I played until I was 40 years old.

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“I’ve probably played around 1,000 games. If you have the mental strength to play you will play.

“I spoke to Jack and asked him ‘what are your thoughts on the Under-21s?’ He told me he wants to go, he wants to be there, he wants to be with us.

“If he said he didn’t want to go I would have backed off from this and left him alone.

“But he wants to be a part of it because he knows how enjoyable it will be.”