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Stuart Pearce looks set to fight with Arsène Wenger over whether or not Jack Wilshere is fit enough to play for Great Britain in the Olympics after missing the entire season with ankle injuries.
Speaking last week, Wenger revealed that Wilshere will not feature in any of the remaining games this season and cannot even contemplate being part of the England squad for Euro 2012. Le Boss also described playing at the Olympics (which take place from the 25th July through to 1th August) as the “worst idea” at this point.
However, Pearce has now revealed that Wilshere has been included in his 80-man shortlist and that he will not let Wenger’s opinion influence his final team decisions.
“Jack Wilshere will not play again this season and will not go to the European Championships. That is for sure.
“He is not ready to practice today or next week. His ankle is fine and he makes progress, but it is slow progress. We had a chat about that this week. His progress is not quick enough to go to the Euros.
“Jack is devastated. What kept him going was that he felt, even if he could not play with us, he had a good chance of going to Euro 2012. That is over now. But Jack is mentally strong and he is already working hard ahead of next season.
“The Olympics would be the worst idea for him. When a guy has not played for year, he needs a good and slow preparation to start the season. Once he is fit he can think about the national team.
“It is not that I don’t want him to go to the Olympics. It is just that he has other priorities than that.”
“He is on the shortlist. We will look at everyone individually and check their fitness and the medical people will speak with the clubs.
“I am acutely aware that club managers have a duty of care to their individual clubs, but once the tournament starts, excitement will be generated and people will see the greater good it will do for the individual players and the feel-good factor it brings.
“Plus we will be returning the players to their clubs before the season starts, so all they will be missing are pre-season friendlies. If I was a player, I would much prefer to be playing at Old Trafford, Wembley and the Millennium Stadium, competing for a medal and then going back to my club. The lift that would give me would be fantastic.
“If I make one selection proviso for one manager I’ll have to do it for everybody. The important thing for me is my duty of care to Great Britain to win a gold medal.
“I don’t want to get in a tête-à-tête with Arsene. I can’t change that opinion. It’s not a great concern to me, really.
“Jack’s been out a hell of a long time. The duty of care to Jack as a player is paramount in my mind. For me to leave him on a shortlist is probably prudent at this stage.”
Arsène Wenger’s issue with Jack going to the Olympics is very simple. The club comes first and Jack needs to go through the motions of pre-season training with Arsenal and to make sure that he is fully fit for next season. England don’t pay his wages, Arsenal do.
Pearce’s argument seems to be that allowing Jack to play (providing he passes the necessary fitness tests) is the caring thing to do given that he has been on the sidelines for so long. If he is fit, then why should he be denied the opportunity to represent his nation at the Olympics? Surely the opportunity of winning an Olympic medal with Team GB in front of the home crowd is something that can’t be missed?
I am unsure as to which is the best option. On the one hand, I want to see Jack play for Team GB at Wembley. On the other hand, is it worth the risk that he suffers injury setbacks and misses part of the beginning of the 2012/13 Premier League season? I will let you decide (below).