Arsenal starlet Wilshere could play in Euro 2013 for England U21s, Pearce claims

The midfielder has stepped up his recovery in recent weeks after spending 14 months sidelined through injury and could get his first taste of top tournament football this summer
Stuart Pearce has admitted he could give Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere his first taste of top tournament football, when he takes his squad England Under-21 to Israel for Euro 2013 next summer.

The 20-year-old was withdrawn from Pearce's squad for the last European Championship 18 months ago, when it was agreed that he deserved a break after a long season.

Injury has haunted the youngster ever since, but Pearce believes it could be a vital experience for Wilshere, in preparation for tournaments with the senior team.

"Look at Tom Cleverley for example, who's had an Olympic experience and international tournament experience," Pearce told The Daily Mail.

"It's the same with Steven Caulker and one or two others; going to the major tournaments will stand them in great stead because as we stand at the moment we've still got a scenario with the likes of Wilshere, because of his injury, he's not been to a major tournament with England yet."

"All of a sudden he's approaching his 20th birthday and I don't know when the next opportunity of a major tournament will be for him- next summer, the summer after?

"The more tournament football these boys can get, the more it prepares them for the senior team, and it also gives us the opportunity to vie for a major trophy at Under-21 level because if you don't get to these tournaments you can't win them."

The Under-21s qualified for the competition next summer on Tuesday night with a highly controversial second-leg win over Serbia, and will not discover their next opponents until November.

England boss Roy Hodgson has calmed the pressure put on Wilshere amid his return to first-team action, though, and is willing to be patient with the midfielder.

"Jack did very well, didn’t he, when he broke into the team," he told The Daily Mirror.

"He was a revelation, however long ago it was - a year or a year and a half ago - but he’s been injured since then.

"The thing we’ve got to realise about him, as Arsene mentioned, is that he’s been out of football for a long, long time.

"He’s a wonderful talent and of course it would be terrific if he could reproduce that form when he becomes involved again.

"But I’m also keen, like Arsene, to play down the expectations. When you’ve been out for well over a year, like he has, to come back and play like he was before might take a little bit of time.

"He’s certainly one we’re going to be watching very carefully, but first we have to wait and see how long it is before Arsene puts him back in the Arsenal squad."