- Premier League
Wilshere to sidestep U21 Championship
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will be exempt from playing at the European Under-21 Championship in the summer, after being included in England's latest senior squad.
Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson announced his squad on Thursday for next week's friendly with Brazil at Wembley, which was missing many of the youngsters who have featured in the former Liverpool boss' previous plans.
Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha were all left out, instead being selected for Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad for the friendly with Sweden on Tuesday. Hodgson believes that all five have futures at senior level, but will instead benefit from gaining tournament experience in Israel this summer.
Despite Wilshere only celebrating his 21st birthday on January 1, Hodgson feels the Arsenal man has already proved himself to be an established player in his senior plans.
"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.''
However, while Wilshere will avoid being at the centre of a club-versus-country row, the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson may not be too pleased at seeing their players on the plane to Israel, and perhaps suffering from burnout. Hodgson, though, can only see the positives.
"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.''