TEAM GB coach Stuart Pearce has signalled his intention to fight Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger over midfielder Jack Wilshere’s availability for London 2012, insisting he will not be told what to do by clubs.
Wenger last week revealed Wilshere would not recover from the ankle injury that has sidelined him all season in time to play for England at Euro 2012, and warned that selecting him for the Olympics would be “the worst idea”.
But Pearce admitted yesterday that the 20-year-old remained on his shortlist and underlined his refusal to bow to pressure from club managers over the selection of players he believes are desperate to take part.
“He’s got his opinions on that. I can’t change his opinions, if that’s the case. It’s not of great concern to me,” said Pearce, whose team were yesterday drawn in a so-called Group of Death with Uruguay, Senegal and the United Arab Emirates for this summer’s Games.
Asked whether Wenger’s views would affect his thinking, Pearce added: “Of course not, because if I make one selection proviso for one manager then I have to do it for everybody. We’ll let them know their players are in contention. We’re talking about Great Britain here, and the Olympic Games, and if you strip it solely down to the players, this is an opportunity of
“[Lionel] Messi took his club to court because he wanted to play – that’s the strength of feeling from the best player in the world.
“I don’t want to get into a legal battle, but we’re not talking about taking players away for a whole season; we’re not even asking them to miss a competitive match; we’re asking them to compete in the Olympic Games on home soil – that’s a great opportunity for any individual.”
Pearce, the current England Under-21 coach and interim boss of the senior side, clashed with Wenger last year over the release of Wilshere for the Under-21 European Championship, with the player ultimately opting out.
Two years previously Pearce and Wenger crossed swords over the involvement of winger Theo Walcott, who defied his club boss and was called up by Pearce for the 2009 tournament.
TEAM GB FIXTURES
● 26 Jul, Senegal, Old Trafford, 7:45pm
● 29 Jul, UAE, Wembley, 7:45pm
● 1 Aug, Uruguay, Millennium Stadium, 7:45pm
● 4 Aug, Quarter-finals
● 7 Aug, Semi-finals
● 11 Aug, Final