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World Cup snub could be a blessing for Walcott


By Guest Writer Danny Ohio.

This summer is a very important one for Theo Walcott. Despite quite a poor season for Arsenal, many – including himself I imagine – still thought he would be on the plane as part of Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad.

In all the talk about who would and who wouldn’t be in the final cut, Theo Walcott’s name was rarely if ever mentioned as one whose place was under threat. Given the fact that the alternatives were either an injury-hit Aaron Lennon or Shaun Wright-Phillips – who has been in wretched form for quite some time now – and the 21-year-old’s seat on the plane looked certain.

But then Il Capo dropped a bombshell on Theo James Walcott that the winger will still be trying to come to terms with. Instead of taking part in the first World Cup to take place in Africa, he will be on a beach somewhere wondering where it all went wrong.

Let’s be clear, Walcott has not become a bad player over night. A succession of niggling injuries broke his season into flitting blocks of 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, meaning that no sooner had he looked like getting some sort of rhythm together, he was back on the treatment table for weeks. As well as the injuries taking their toll on him physically, the frustration at such a stop-start campaign must have taken its toll on him mentally and mental stress can be a more destructive force than physical pain.

Add to that the withering criticism from that fountain of football knowledge Chris Waddle about whether he had the brain to play at the highest level and it all adds up to a pretty miserable last 12 months for the wonder boy who destroyed Croatia in Zagreb in two years ago.

That means the next two months are crucial for Walcott. He must take a long look in the mirror and remind himself that he was the one who scored a hat-trick against the Croats, it was him who dribbled past four Liverpool players in a wonderful run in the Champions League three years ago to set up Adebayor and that it was him who came off the bench to put the fear of God into Barcelona at the Emirates in March.

Instead of banging his head against a brick wall in South Africa and enduring more frustration and criticism, Walcott can get his mind and his body right, ready for the new season with Arsenal. If he begins the new season fully fit and can string five to six games together then he will surely start to fly the way that Sven Goran Eriksson and Arsene Wenger always thought he would.

When Fabio Capello told Walcott he wasn’t among the best 23 English players it would have ranked as one of his lowest moments, but if he makes the most of the summer break, Walcott could end up thanking the Italian in a couple of years time for doing him the biggest favour of his life.

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