Arsene Wenger was lucky this summer with Wilshire withdrawing from this month’s European Under-21 Championship amid fears of burnout. But Wenger and other top club bosses could face the mother of all battles ahead of London 2012. As reported in The Sun The Olympic football event comes after Euro 2012 and ends just one week before the expected Premier League kick-off date of August 18.
Fifteen of the 18-man squad must be under 23 and the likes of Arsenal stars Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey could be called up alongside Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. Other nations have taken the Olympic tournament increasingly seriously and superstars such as Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho have featured in past tournaments.
And with the option of picking three over-age players, the club v country row would be ignited even further if superstars like Wayne Rooney were called up. For the likes of Wilshere and Rooney, they could in theory be called up to play in both summer tournaments, something Wenger has told SunSport he is concerned about, but I seriously doubt whether this will happen.
The English FA will have the power to call up players from any of the four home nations. Players will have the right to say ‘no’ but their FA cannot put them under pressure not to play. It means Welsh stars such as Gareth Bale and Ramsey, who have said they want to take part, are free to do so without the fear of being penalised by their own FA.
Whether the English FA can withstand the likely backlash from Wenger, Manchester United chief Alex Ferguson and other Premier League bosses is another matter. Ironically England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce, who Wenger clashed with over Wilshere’s commitments this summer, is among the favourites to be named GB manager!
Lets hope Wilshire and Ramsey do not get too excited about playing the olympics, this will certainly have Wenger on edge!