Temporary England manager Stuart Pearce has admitted that Gunners starletAlex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still in England’s Euro 2012 plans even though he has not been selected for the senior squad against the Netherlands next week.
The 18-year-old has been in flying form recently since breaking into the Gunners lineup this year, and many had tipped the former Southampton winger to play a part in Euro 2012.
Pearce has clarified his reasons for not including ‘The Ox’ in the senior setup for next weeks friendly, and wants him to gain more minutes and experience with the U21’s as they face Belgium.
On whether Oxlade-Chamberlain is still in the picture for Euro 2012 Pearce said:
100 per cent, yes, without a doubt.
I think he would suffer by not playing 90 minutes against Belgium on Wednesday.
It would be better the Under-21s winning a game, possibly qualifying for the Euros in two years’ time. That’s where my eye has got to be with the experience of these young players.
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I could have brought him in, played him ten minutes and there would have been a scrum from the media. He’d bypassed the under-21s, shouldn’t ever play for the under-21s again.
If we keep doing that then we will never win at that age group and galvanise a winning formula at the younger age group.
One or two of these younger players who can play in the under-21s and seniors, there might be an indication they’ve been picked in those squads because they might get game time.
Wenger however believes it is still to early for a senior call up for a player that has not even made double-figured Premier League appearances. But he holds Oxlade-Chamberlain in high regard, a player who he splashed out on last summer:
I believe for any player he must play 100 games and then you talk about him.
When a player has five or six games in the Premier League every time you have ups and downs.
He learns his job at the moment. I am a strong believer in Oxlade-Chamberlain and I spent quite good money for him, but he needs time.
You are not ready from one day to the next at the top, top level.
With some massive games coming up for Arsenal I have to stay I am disappointed that he hasn’t been called up to the senior squad as he wouldn’t be playing a full 90 minutes, but at least the confidence he will gain from playing with the U21 setup will help in his development.
A senior call up can’t be too far away now for the Englishman who will join fellow Gunners Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere (when he’s fit) which is extremely positive for Wenger and Arsenal as they are starting to establish some quality English talent within the side. Gibbs too will be involved at some point down the track.
Will Oxlade-Chamberlain be starting ahead of Walcott in the English senior side when he breaks through? Similarities between the two have been drawn recently, but it feels that ‘The Ox’ is already progressing into a more consistent and complete player than Walcott. Competition at club and country level can only be beneficial as it will push the two harder against one another and hopefully bring out the best in the duo.