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Wilshere to defy Wenger over Under-21s

Jack Wilshere is ready to risk the wrath of Arsene Wenger and play in this summer's European Under-21 Championship, despite the Arsenal boss frequently expressing his desire for the youngster to miss the tournament.

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Wilshere, 19, has become an integral part of Arsenal's first-team this season and his impressive displays were rewarded on Sunday when he was named PFA Young Player of the Year.

The midfielder has also made the step up to the senior England side under Fabio Capello, but Under-21s coach Stuart Pearce has stressed he is keen to have the Gunners star on board for this summer's finals in Denmark.

And Wilshere insists he is happy to oblige should he be called up by Pearce, a move that will likely leave Wenger unimpressed.

"It's an international tournament and if I'm picked, I will go," Wilshere said. "I want to go - if I'm picked!"

"It is England. I am never going to say no to my country. It is an honour to play at any level and I have played since the Under-16s so it is an honour. We all feel we have a great chance of winning it."

Asked if he is worried about burnout, Wilshere added: "To be honest, at the minute - no. We are playing Sunday, Sunday now. We are out the Champions League so we have enough time to recover.

"Obviously burnout might be an issue. But the manager at Arsenal will give me the right time off and if I am selected I would never say no to my country."

Though Wilshere's desire to play for England Under-21s could leave him in hot water with Wenger, the teenager recognises that the Frenchman has been instrumental in the development of his career.

"He's been massive for me," Wilshere said. "I've looked at the list of past players from Arsenal that have won PFA awards and that shows how good he is."

On winning the PFA award, he commented: "It's a huge honour to be on the same list as Wayne Rooney and James Milner. Hopefully I'll go on to better things as well. I'm only 19, still learning and want to learn some more.

"It can only be good for me as a lad of 19 to go to Barcelona and play in the Nou Camp. That was a great learning experience. I'm learning all the time and hopefully can have some more of them.

"It is the biggest prize you can get as a young player, especially coming from your fellow professionals, it is massive. You play against them week in week out and they know you best. It is massive coming from them."


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