Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Walcott Must Put Pressure Away

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims Theo Walcott is being put under "terrible pressure" to be ready for the World Cup but is backing his winger to make the final England squad.

Walcott made only his fifth Premier League start of the season in Saturday's 2-0 win over Sunderland following a series of injuries set-backs and showed signs that his form is heading in the right direction.

In 2008, the Arsenal winger hit a stunning hat-trick as England thrashed Croatia 4-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Zagreb but after dislocating his shoulder in November of the same year he has struggled to re-establish himself.

Wenger has warned it will take time for Walcott to find his rhythm now he has seemingly shrugged off his injury worries but firmly believes the player will be heading to South Africa as part of Fabio Capello's squad.

"The World Cup is not today," said Wenger. "It is in June. I think he will make the squad. The problem is that everyone has the England national team in their mind and, because you want to bring the World Cup back to London, you want everybody to be on top today.

"They will be in the long run but when players have been out for a while it takes a while to get back to your best with confidence, sharpness and zip. That will come back with Theo."

Capello was at Emirates Stadium on Saturday with the media spotlight on Walcott throughout, and Wenger believes the scrutiny puts intense strain on the youngster.

"It's terrible pressure. But that's the modern media," he told the club's official website.

Wenger also believes club success could pave the way for a good World Cup, with players who approach the competition in confident mood more likely to star for their country in South Africa.

"They will be stronger at the World Cup if they come with a trophy and it has been a good a season, than without," said Wenger.

"If they have something in their pocket they are in a strong position. We are still in two competitions and the most important thing is we try to do as well as we can.

"Sport is not what happens in six months. What happens now is important to us. I believe what is most important is the players focus on the club and achieve what they can for us."

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