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Arsène Wenger says it is up to England not to burn out Jack Wilshere

Arsène Wenger says it is up to England not to burn out Jack WilshereArsène Wenger has warned Fabio Capello that he would harm England's chances of Euro 2012 success if he sanctioned Jack Wilshere's release to Under-21 duty at the end of the season.

Wilshere has emerged as a key player for Arsenal and England yet he remains eligible for Stuart Pearce's Under-21 squad, which will compete in the European Championship in Denmark in June. Pearce wants to select Wilshere as part of his plan to win the tournament and the midfielder has expressed his desire to play, which Wenger accepts as "normal". Capello will support Pearce's decision.

Wenger, though, worries about "overloading" young players – Wilshere stands to feature in 61 matches at all levels this season – and his club manager likened fears over his burn-out to watching a car crash.

Wenger was also clearly unhappy that Wilshere was one of only three outfield players to start for Capello's England in the qualifying tie against Wales last Saturday and then the friendly against Ghana on Tuesday. "A lot happened last week that defied common sense but I do not want to talk about that," Wenger said.

To Wenger the issue over Wilshere echoes that of Theo Walcott, when the Arsenal winger played for both Capello's and Pearce's England teams at the end of a busy 2008-09 season. Walcott even suffered the indignity of being dropped by Pearce during the Under-21 finals in Sweden. Walcott would be dogged by injuries in 2009-10 and Capello overlooked him for the World Cup finals in South Africa.

Wenger sounded a little weary with the talking point and he said that he did not "want to go into these battles any more." His priority was for Wilshere to help Arsenal win the Premier League title and he said that the international issue would be resolved "at the end of the season with the FA". Wenger would "adapt to what they [the FA] do," yet he was determined to protect Wilshere.

"Experience helps you only to anticipate problems," Wenger said. "It doesn't make you more intelligent. You know this car will hit the wall at some stage and you see it a little bit earlier than somebody who has less experience. I think, in the world, nobody has brought more young players out than I have and I have a good experience of what kind of stages they go through.

"I've met players at World Cups who have played more than 60 games in a season and before the World Cup started, they said to me: 'Boss, I am dead.' You prepare for a European Championship a year before. You do not prepare in May or in June before the competition.

"England have to decide what to do … and they have the final word because they have the rules for them. What is important is that England has a good player, Arsenal has a good player and the player has the needed rest to produce good performances."

Wenger is worried that the FA is basing its Under-21 selection on the wrong criteria. "If England want to do well in the Under-21 tournament, they can say, 'We take our best players and we do not consider what happened before,'" Wenger said. "But logically, why do you produce a youth system? It is to get them ready to play in the first team.

"Once they play in the first team, your job has been done and you can promote other players. Unless you say, 'We want to go for national pride and ego, so we just play our best players in the tournament.' Then it is defendable. If I asked you to give me the winners of the World Cup, I am sure you will give me them all. If I asked you to give me the winners of the Under-21 tournaments, you will struggle.

"It is in the interests of the FA as well that Wilshere is protected. It is normal that you play many games but there is a number you have to respect and make sure you do not make a mistake with a promising player."

Arsenal resume their quest for the title at home to Blackburn Rovers, with Wenger able to welcome back Cesc Fábregas, Alex Song, Walcott and Abou Diaby from injuries. Robin van Persie is also fit after suffering a knock with Holland during the international break. The goalkeeper Manuel Almunia keeps his place. "We had a difficult March on all fronts," Wenger said, "so now it's a new start for us."

He revealed that the central defender Johan Djourou was in line to return sooner than expected from his shoulder injury. "On Monday he should go out [to train] and two weeks later he should play," Wenger said.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hytner, for The Guardian on Saturday 2nd April 2011 00.05 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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