Wenger’s set to have a word with one of his English youngsters over the subject of playing with the Under-21s in next summer’s European Championships in the Czech Republic.
Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, 21, has stated his willingness to feature for Gareth Southgate’s side June next year after they sealed qualification for the tournament with a 4 – 2 aggregate win over Croatia. This comes as an antithesis to Wenger’s strong objection to players moving down the ladder to represent their countries in International competitions after making their full debuts with the senior National side.
“Once a guy has moved up to the full national team, if you put him down, he is never good,” said Wenger.
The manager’s comment may be seen as a selfish one, which he admits to in the statement following that quoted above, but the fact he isn’t the only one making the demand may give some sense to the school of thought. Everton boss, Roberto Martinez, has also expressed his wish that his own Ross Barkley may be spared from partaking in the championship. Barkely has been out for some time and will return soon to Goodison for his first action since the end of the World Cup, and like Marinez, Wenger believes a player should be granted some rest after the exertions of a League season.
“When a guy has played 50 games, it is better he has a good rest during the summer”, according to Wenger.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is one of three Arsenal players who are eligible to be selected by Southgate for the Under-21 Euros, the other two being Jack Wilshere and Calum Chambers. Judging by the weight of their involvements in the team already at this early stage of the season, you wouldn’t have much to argue about with Wenger’s position.
All three have been very regular in the first team this season, Wilshere being even more involved with Roy Hodgson’s England than the other two. Chambers had a place in the Euro Qualifiers games against San Marino and Estonia due to John Stones injury but even when the Everton man returns, it shouldn’t spell a re-demotion down the step for the 19-year old.
There is an argument that players should be allowed to represent their countries at whatever level they fit in, but there is a real danger of a chipping away from the player’s confidence. Just three days before the U-21 Euros begin, Roy Hodgson’s senior team will play against Slovenia on June 14 and how much good will it do if, say Arsenal has won the League by May, with Wilshere being the player of the season and rather than use him as the solidifier in the England main team, you send him away to the Czech Republic to run around with 18 year olds.
Again, the June tournament means these players will have to be given extended leave periods from pre-season duties, depriving them of full fitness when hostilities kick-off in August.
Chamberlain probably gave that interview well aware that kids were watching and were expecting to learn a lesson or two on patriotism. He was clever enough to put the “Gareth might not even want me” line in his comments, because Wenger would certainly not want him to go to the Czech Republic, and for good reasons too.
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