Tomas Rosicky can no longer afford to gamble with his fitness

Tomas Rosicky has not met up with the Czech squad for this international break. It’s an eminently sensible decision. Rosicky has only just returned from injury, and with the Czech team’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup all but gone, he’d be wasting his time trekking to Prague. For a man as vulnerable to injury as Rosicky, it’s an unnecessary gamble.

Last week, Rosicky turned 33. In football terms, he is an old man. It’s difficult to believe when you look at him. Like his doppelganger Mark Owen, time’s ravages seem to have no influence over his youthful visage. Rosicky’s performances, too, bely his advancing years. During the game against West Brom, I remarked that he can look more sprightly than players who are more than a decade his junior.

Rosicky’s nick-name in Germany was “Little Mozart” after the gloriously gifted melodist. However, he’s more a conductor than a composer, setting the rhythm of the Arsenal midfield. There’s a certainly irony about the fact that the player most capable of lifting Arsenal’s tempo is also the oldest man in the squad.

Rosicky must start looking after his best interests – and those of his employers. Every time he goes away with the Czech squad it feels like a game of roulette – and one wherein landing on black lands Rosicky with another troubling hamstring problem. Arsene Wenger would prefer Rosicky did his gambling somewhere like the bwin casino than on the playing field.

Arsenal need Rosicky. Even with the addition of the £42.5m man Mesut Ozil and the emergence of lauded youngsters like Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, Rosicky brings something unique to the Arsenal set-up. He combines the drive and feistiness of Mathieu Flamini with the flair of Arsenal’s more celebrated midfielders. His use of the ball is rarely spectacular, but never less than intelligent. His style is characterised by a smooth efficiency.

The good news is that well-informed sources in the Czech Republic indicate that Rosicky has been offered a new deal. Despite competition from clubs in the MLS, Rosicky is said to be keen on the idea of ending his career with Arsenal, and is likely to extend.

While he’ll never be offered more than a one-year rolling contract, he could pick up several more of those before retirement beckons. The example of Giggs shows what is possible given careful preparation and delicate management. However, the rigours of international football are hazardous. Giggs, under pressure from United boss Alex Ferguson, called time on his Wales career at the age of 33.

Rosicky would be wise to follow suit.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.