Page last updated at: Fri, 27 May 2011 11:25 AM BST Printable version

Wilshere and Carroll left behind

by Dalia Hilmi

Will Jack Wilshere’s absence lead to defeat?

On June 11 some of the world's best young footballers will go head-to-head as Denmark plays host to the UEFA European Under-21 Championships.

England are second favourites behind Spain to win the tournament but if they are to impress in next month's tournament they will have to do it without their two biggest stars Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll.

Both Wilshere and Carroll were included in a preliminary 40-man squad for the competition but failed to make the final cut of 23 because of doubts over their fitness and concerns about the potential long-term injuries that could occur if they were to play in Denmark.

'Massive risk'

Controversy had surrounded Wilshere's inclusion in the squad with some, most prominently his club manager Arsene Wenger, warning that the youngster could suffer in the long-run by playing too many matches this year.

Wilshere, who won the PFA's Young Player of the Year award this season, played 49 times in Arsenal's latest campaign and having to play yet more matches could have proved detrimental to his progress on the back of such an arduous season.

Wenger claimed that making young players who feature regularly for their clubs play in such competitions places their bodies under strain and can lead to burn-out and injuries. He said that for Wilshere to play in the Under-21 tournament could be “a massive risk”.

The Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish had echoed Wenger's concerns by saying that he feared taking Carroll to Denmark could exacerbate the injury problems from which he has been suffering over the last six months.

Since his £35million move from Newcastle, Carroll has had thigh and knee injuries that limited him to just six appearances for Liverpool in the second half of the season. Carroll was not included in the final squad in order to allow him the time needed to make a full recovery from his injury problems.

Managers' final say

Stuart Pearce, manager of the England Under-21 side, had originally made his intentions clear that despite other people's fears he will utilise the two prestigious young talents for the tournament. However, he eventually conceded under mounting pressure and omitted them from his final 23-man squad.

Wilshere and Carroll himself had stated that they wanted to play for their country at every opportunity, even if it is at Under-21 level rather than as a full international. Nevertheless, despite the desires of Pearce and the two young stars, their managers had the final say and their names were left off the team sheet.

Although still expected to do well in the tournament, the England Under-21 side now travels to Denmark a much weakened force without two of Europe's finest burgeoning talents in their squad.


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