'Wenger rage over Jack does not bother me', says Pearce as he considers Wilshere for Olympics
21:57 GMT, 24 April 2012
Stuart Pearce has refused to rule out selecting Jack Wilshere for Great Britain’s Olympic football squad, despite Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger stating it would be the ‘worst idea’ for the 20-year-old.
The Team GB and acting England boss insisted the Frenchman’s opinion was not of ‘great concern’ and even raised the possibility of taking legal action to secure Wilshere’s services.
The Arsenal midfielder has not played for his club all season after suffering a stress fracture in his right ankle, but FIFA rules state clubs are obliged to release Under 23 players for the Olympics.
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Speaking after Great Britain’s men were drawn against Uruguay, Senegal and the United Arab Emirates in the group stage, Pearce confirmed Wilshere is on his 80-man shortlist.
Pearce also said he would not consider ignoring players to placate the likes of Wenger or Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who has said Olympic football will cause ‘utter chaos’.
Pearce said: ‘If I make one selection proviso for one manager I’ll have to do it for everybody. The important thing for me is my duty of care to Great Britain to win a gold medal.
‘I don’t want to get in a tte–tte with Arsene. I can’t change that (Wenger’s) opinion. It’s not a great concern to me, really.
Decisions time: Stuart Pearce says he will consider Wilshere
‘I think (Lionel) Messi took his club (Barcelona) to court (to play in the 2008 Olympics). That’s the strength of feeling from Lionel Messi, the best player in the world. Now I, as a football club or a player, wouldn’t want to get involved in a legal battle but I think somewhere down the line…’
Pearce added: ‘Jack’s been out a hell of a long time. The duty of care to Jack as a player is paramount in my mind. For me to leave him on a shortlist is probably prudent at this stage.’
Pearce revealed he will travel to the United States to see David Beckham play for LA Galaxy against Seattle Sounders on May 2 and plans to watch Joe Cole, who is on loan from Liverpool at Lille, before the end of the season.
Pearce was also adamant he will not be forced to select players from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, adding: ‘I don’t consider nationality. From the offset I had no contingency to put a quota of individuals in from certain nations.’
Hope Powell, who is boss of the women’s team, said: ‘The Olympics gives us an opportunity to raise the profile of women’s football in this country.’