In what many Arsenal supporters see as fantastic news, 19-year-old Arsenal wunderkind, Jack Wilshere, has been left off of the final squad of 23 for England's participation in the U-21 European Championships.
The tournament will take place in Denmark during the month of June, a time during which many English Premiere League players are recuperating in advance of the approaching club season.
Wilshere had been named in the provisional squad of 40 players that England U-21 coach submitted ahead of the final cut, and the player himself had vowed to play in spite of protests from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
However, the young midfielder, who also serves as a member of England's senior national team, has apparently decided against his participation, realizing that he may need some rest after all.
Arsene Wenger, long critical of what he deems overuse of some players by international managers, had stated his desire for Wilshere to be left off the squad, considering he already made 49 appearances in his first season as a Gunner, in addition to serving on both the senior and U-21 squads for England. In total, the 19-year-old has made 55 appearances for club and country over the course of the last season.
Despite his full awareness of Wenger's wishes, Wilshere previously stated that he would play for his country any opportunity that he had. Stuart Pearce, the England U-21 manager, had long expected Wilshere to be included, joining fellow Gunners Kieran Gibbs and Henri Lansbury for the European tournament.
Apparently, Arsenal's sophisticated GPS tracking systems, used to calculate work rates and distance covered during training and matches, indicated that the heavy load on the teenage sensation had taken its toll, and he had regressed in performance in the latter stages of the season.
Wenger once again discussed the situation with Wilshere, this time armed with the performance data from the GPS systems, and told the midfielder that the results indicated he may risk injury and his prospects for the club season if he didn't heed the advice to rest.
Though disappointed, Wilshere knew his club manager was looking out for his long-term career, and was correct about his desire for the youngster to rest his body over the summer to avoid burnout.
Asked about his thoughts on the matter, Wilshere was quoted in The Guardian,
"Missing the Under-21 tournament is not just about the Euros. It's about me looking after myself. Over the last few weeks I have been feeling tired and my GPS results have shown that. It shows I am heading for an injury and that is the last thing I want. Especially heading into the Euros. There are players like Steven Gerrard who have been injured while I have been playing and I want to keep my place in the team and I have to be 100% to do that."
"My high intensity work has gone down. My body load has got more, which means I'm more heavy when I'm running and that means I'm more likely to get an injury. It was Arsène Wenger and Tony Colbert, the fitness coach, who showed me the stats. It didn't really sink in at first but it just kept going down, on a downward spiral."
"It scared me a bit, made me realise that as much as I'm 19 and can keep going and going, there's going to be a time when you're going to hit the wall. Maybe that was coming. Over the last four games, after about 60 minutes, you feel a bit more tired than you did in January."
The youngster will surely be disappointed, but he has his eye on the greater prize, a successful club career, and cementing a regular place amongst England's senior squad. With his assured performances in the heart of Arsenal's midfield, Wilshere's future appears bright and he is likely wise to take the precautions at this early stage in his career.
A fellow Gunner, Theo Walcott, found himself in a similar predicament a few years ago, with Arsenal, and both England squads clinging to him as the young forward was developing as a teenager. Utilized in both the U-21 side, as well as the senior team, Walcott found himself at the center of controversy between Wenger and English National Team management in an eerily familiar scenario.
Walcott then struggled with injury over much of the next few years, solidifying Wenger's convictions on the matter. He certainly doesn't want to revisit such a scenario with Wilshere. With the potential departure of midfield maestro Cesc Fabregas always looming on the horizon, Wenger knows that Wilshere may very well be the engine that drives Arsenal over the next several years. His continued development, in addition to that of Aaron Ramsey, may hold the keys to the future of the Gunners.
Even at only 19, Wilshere has an eye on the future and knows that Wenger has his best interests in mind. With such a bright future ahead of him, young Jack will have years of opportunity to shine on the international stage, as well as in the heart of Arsenal.
Also missing out on the U-21 European Championships will be Liverpool's Andy Carroll. Following his injury-plagued season with Newcastle and Liverpool, the dynamic 22-year-old forward determined that his inclusion in both the English senior side and the U-21 squad might not be beneficial as he looks to be healthy for the upcoming EPL season.
With two of their brightest young stars opting out of the U-21 tournament, England may suffer in the short-term, but a little patience now may pay dividends over the course of the next decade.