John Terry has backed Jack Wilshere's omission from the squad for this month's European Under-21 Championship to protect him from burnout.
The England captain said the Arsenal midfielder was a "huge part" of the senior set-up and would play a key role if they qualified for Euro 2012.
"If we're looking to the Euros, we have to nurture him," said Terry.
"It's unfortunate for the Under-21s, but Jack has been different class for us."
Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce left Wilshere out of his squad for the Uefa finals, which take place in Denmark from 11-25 June, after data from the Gunners' medical staff showed the 19-year-old would risk a major injury if his season extended into the summer.
Wilshere is instead likely to make his final appearance of the season in England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley on Saturday.
He played 49 times for Arsenal in his first full season, picking up the PFA Young Player of the Year award, and started his first senior game for England in the 2-1 friendly win in Denmark in February.
"Not many of us expected him to step up the way he has done," admitted Terry.
"Everyone was keen to see fresh faces and fresh players come in, and he's been the one who's stood out.
"The way he glides past players is very much Zola-esque. He shows a huge amount of confidence for someone so young. His ability speaks for itself."
England manager Fabio Capello said Wilshere had impressed during training this week.
"He can play one game without any problems," added Capello, who said he had no concerns about Wilshere being fit next summer for Euro 2012 after another full season for Arsenal.
"All the players will play a lot of games," said Capello. "Jack is really young and will recover quickly. Injury wise it is more difficult 10 years into your career. I don't have a concern for Jack next year at all."