Arsenal news

Wenger foresees Wilshere burn-out

April 2, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Arsene Wenger has urged caution over Jack Wilshere, likening the Arsenal and England starlet's heavy workload to a car heading towards a wall.

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Wenger claims he is the master of developing young players and that his vast experience is telling him Wilshere needs a break.

According to Wenger, Wilshere's involvement in both of England's fixtures in the international break "defied common sense".

Further adding to the club versus country tension is Wilshere's stated desire to be part of the England Under-21s at the European Championships in the summer, with June also bringing another Euro 2012 qualifier for the seniors which he could be involved in.

Wilshere, 19, made his first senior England competitive start in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales last weekend, and was again named in Fabio Capello's XI for Tuesday night's friendly with Ghana at Wembley, where he played 70 minutes. If he continues to represent his country at all ago levels he could have played almost 60 games in his first full season before having a break.

"A lot happened last week that defied common sense, but I do not want to talk about that,'' Wenger said. "I do not want to go into these battles any more, and I did it with France. But I have enough experience, and experience helps you only to anticipate problems - you know this car will hit the wall at some stage and you see it a little bit earlier than somebody who has less experience. Nobody has brought more young players out than I have and I have a good experience of what kind of stages they go through.''

Wenger is also aware of the added pressure the home-grown starlet has to cope with.

"I think the best way to help Wilshere is to leave him alone to play football,'' said the Arsenal manager. "I don't deny that he is a very promising player. I wouldn't play him in the first team at 19 with the number of midfielders I have if I didn't believe that. But let him play and what he will be, he will be. We are all confident that he has a bright future, but it is the first season. Let him play.''

Capello has declared the likes of Wilshere and fellow Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott are, along with Liverpool striker Andy Carroll, the future of the national team. Wenger feels long-term thinking is the only way to develop a successful strategy, particularly in terms of managing player workloads.

"You prepare for a European Championship a year before, not in May or in June before the competition,'' he said. "France was European and world champions. Then they went to Australia, they went to Chile and after went out of the 2002 World Cup in the first round without scoring a goal - with the best goalscorer in England, the best goalscorer in Italy and the best goalscorer in France in the team. I told them before.

"England do think about it, but they have to decide what to do and we will adapt. We will give the needed rest to Wilshere if he plays the tournament. At the end of the day, what is important is that England has a good player, Arsenal has a good player and the player has the needed rest to produce good performances.''

Arsenal host Blackburn in Saturday's late kick-off looking to keep the pressure up on leaders Manchester United, who head to relegation battlers West Ham at lunchtime. With the Premier League now their only hope of silverware, Wenger knows there can be no more room for error.

"We cannot afford any more draws, but the good thing is the other teams are in the same position,'' he said. "We have now recovered some players during the international break. We were touched mentally, because we played with desire, but did not have free spirit. For us to play well, it is important to have a free spirit, so to recover a bit mentally was important.''