Pearce: Wilshere reminds me of Gazza
Published 22:35 03/05/11 By MirrorFootball
Stuart Pearce today compared Jack Wilshere to Paul Gascoigne after defying Arsene Wenger by picking the Arsenal midfielder for England's provisional European Under-21 Championship squad.
Head coach Pearce risked the wrath of Gunners boss Wenger, who has been openly hostile to the prospect of Wilshere playing at this summer's finals in Denmark.
Pearce revealed he twice attempted to contact Wenger before this afternoon's squad announcement to discuss Wilshere's inclusion and was planning to try again after confirming the 19-year-old was in his initial 40-man party.
But he insisted it would be a "courtesy" call only, during which he would state his case for selecting the midfielder but would not be swayed by any counter-arguments.
Wenger is upset Wilshere is being considered both as an under-21 and senior international and fears he may suffer burnout having already played 52 times for club and country this season.
Pearce dismissed the burnout argument, claiming players from other countries had played just as much football in recent seasons, and insisted Wilshere was desperate to be involved.
He said: "He reminds me of Gascoigne. He loves to play football.
"I had a conversation with Jack a month ago and said to him, 'You've played a lot of games, what are your thoughts on the summer?'.
"He wants to go. And you ask him the question, 'Why do you want to go?' He wants to go because he is enjoying his time."
Pearce, who also picked Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, insisted picking Wilshere was in the best interests of both the player and the country.
He pointed out the most successful sides in European football in the past decade - Spain, Italy and Germany - had all built on the foundations laid by winning the Under-21 Championship.
Pearce, who earned 78 caps for England during his career, added: "At Italia 90, having never played a tournament at youth level and had 20 senior caps to my name, nothing prepared me for stepping out at that World Cup and the nerves.
"Now, it's my job to make sure that our young players don't suffer from those nerves that probably inhibited me for the first group matches.
"I have to make sure that they have a better education in international football than I certainly did as a player.
"Arsene, I've got the utmost respect for.
"His proviso is to be successful for Arsenal Football Club and however many hundreds of thousands of supporters that they have.
"My proviso is to be successful at under-21 level and make sure that these players step on the international stage and learn to win together. I've got duty of care for maybe 60 million people in this country.
"It's not good for us to turn around every two years and have this root-and-branch inquiry after a World Cup or a European Championship at senior level without addressing things now.
"Now's the time to go to major tournaments with your best players and try to get a trophy in the cabinet - like our under-17s have done just recently - and build on what the under-21s have done.
"I can't name a club side or a national side anywhere in the world that gets to a major final and then leaves his best players at home. It's doesn't happen."
Wilshere and Carroll were among six players named in today's squad who had been capped at senior level, along with Danny Welbeck, Jordan Henderson, Micah Richards and Kieran Gibbs.
The 40-man party announced this afternoon will be reduced to 23 by June 1, four days before England play their final pre-tournament friendly against Norway in Southampton.
That fixture comes just a day after the senior squad's European Championship qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley, a game in which Wilshere and Carroll are both likely to feature.
Pearce confirmed neither would take part in the Norway friendly were that to be the case and would be given a three-day break before linking up with the under-21 squad.
England's Under-21 Championship campaign begins a week later against Spain in Herning, where they will also face Ukraine three days after that before taking on Czech Republic in Viborg on June 19.
The top two in the group will progress to the semi-finals, with the final taking place on June 25.