By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger has called on the England set-up to decide if Jack Wilshere belongs with the Under-21s or the full side.

The midfielder, 19 on New Year’s Day, has had a meteoric rise in the final few months of 2010.

He was nearly loaned back to Bolton in August but stayed in North London and established himself in the Arsenal first-team. He also became a full England international but has since played in the younger age category.

The national set-up has indicated they would like to include Wilshere in the Under-21s for the European Championships next summer. For footballing and fatigue reasons, Wenger does not want him to go.

“What the English FA have to decide is [whether] the player is in the first-team or in the Under-21s,” said the Arsenal manager. “Personally, I don’t believe ever a player performs when he has been in the top team and comes back down to the Under-21s. I’ve never seen it, so it is always a bad decision.

“When a player plays under his normal real level he is never good. If you take any player who plays at Arsenal in the Premier League, put him down to Division One, you would be disappointed by him because it is a low mental key for him and he has to adapt to a different game. He will be lost.

“The second thing is that we have to sit down at the end of the season and see how many games Wilshere has played before considering if he plays in the Under-21s.

“If he has played over 40 games and he is still at 18 or 19 years of age, you have to be conscious as well that every time he plays when he goes in the fight he has to put 200 per cent in to win the ball. So, when a guy like him has played 40 games, in the season, he needs a rest.”

To date, Wilshere has played 24 games – 21 with Arsenal, one with England and two with the Under-21s

“The boy wants to play,” added Wenger. “I find that positive. But if he is now playing with the first-team until June and then playing in the Under-21s then that will not work.”

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23 Dec 2010