By Nik Brumsack
Arsène Wenger says Jack Wilshere should be left to concentrate on regaining his fitness and playing for Arsenal before he can be considered for international football.
The midfielder is on his way back to the first-team squad after 14 months on the sidelines and England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce has mentioned the possibility of taking Wilshere to next summer’s European Championships in Israel.
Wenger isn’t sure that’s a good idea, and feels Wilshere should be given time to play for his club first.
“Let's wait until Jack comes back. He has not played in the first team for 14 months,” said Wenger. “Do you know what that is like, 14 months out of competition? He works very hard. He is doing well but let's not go too far.
“I never believe that a player, once he has gone up to the top team, plays well with the Under 21s,” Wenger added. “It does not exist - I have not got one example.
“That’s why I believe England has to make a decision - is Jack in the first team and not in the Under-21s?”
Wilshere has featured in two Arsenal Under-21 games in recent weeks and completed his first 90 minutes since his long-term injury in a training ground friendly on Wednesday.
Wenger revealed at his pre-match press conference on Friday that the Capital One Cup tie at Reading on October 30 is a realistic target for Wilshere - but he insists caution must prevail.
“There are two aspects [to the recovery],” Wenger said. “One is the apprehension to go into challenges when you have too many injuries. On that front we are at 100 per cent. We even have to calm him down. He goes for every challenge and has no apprehension.
“Then you have the physical front - he is OK there. Then you have the match fitness - that is 80 per cent. He needs one more game, maybe Monday night with the reserves [against Everton], I don’t know. Then he should be back.”
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