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Mar 14, 2011

Arsenal to rule on Wilshere GB hopes

Arsenal starlet Jack Wilshere could only be chosen to play at both the London 2012 Olympics and Euro 2012 finals with the Gunners' agreement, according to Football Association general secretary Alex Horne.

The FA has previously promised that players who participate in Euro 2012 will not be picked for the Olympics, in order to ease the burden on clubs.

But Wilshere - who has now broken into the England set-up and would appear to be likely inclusion in the Three Lions' squad for next year's tournament - has stressed that he would be keen to play for a Great Britain Olympic team, should it become a reality.

That presents a dilemma for the FA, who are keen to select a team capable of challenging for a medal at the London Olympics.

"We would have a conversation with Arsene and Jack to see if it was feasible," Horne said. "It means the player will get no summer holiday, depending on how long we are in Poland and Ukraine for. It's tough. It's how Arsenal feel about it as they are the employer and as an athlete you have got to take a rest.

"The idea is to appoint a manager to select a team in May [2012], but not take anyone to Poland/Ukraine and then ask them to play in the Olympics because there is only four weeks in between and that's not fair on the clubs or the players.''

Horne met with leaders of the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh FAs last week over the issue of selecting players, but admitted the other associations are refusing to budge from their position of the Olympic teams being English-only. The British Olympic Association say that cannot be allowed as it is discriminatory.

"It's a bit of stalemate," Horne said. "What was helpful for me was to understand the depth of feeling. I had heard it from [BOA chief executive] Andy Hunt before and now I've heard it from the three other home associations. I think there is a way through this but it's difficult.

"We have to have a team to participate in the Olympics. I could get comfortable with the notion that it was an English-only team but I completely understand why the BOA are uncomfortable with that.

"I also have sympathy for the position of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales saying they don't want their players to play for an English team. It has to be picked on merit, that's why I think the discrimination argument from the BOA is quite weak.''

Meanwhile, Scottish FA president George Peat said the home nations' position has not changed and would not in the future, despite the news that two female Scottish players are taking legal advice on whether they could demand to play for the Olympics team.

"The original agreement we made two years ago still stands, that it will be an English-only team,'' he said.

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