England boss Roy Hodgson has sent a message to Arsenal contract rebel Theo Walcott, claiming that he won’t be in the national side if he can’t nail down a place at the Emirates, as reported by the Mirror.
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Walcott has struggled for game time at Arsenal since returning from injury, and despite the 25-year-old adamantly denying it, many believe it is down to his current contract situation at his North London club.
The England international will be hoping to get some game time during the international break, but Hodgson’s comments suggest he won’t be starting just yet.
“That’s the thing about football, isn’t it? If you’re not careful, there’s always someone behind you waiting to take your place. It’s a dog eat dog world, a bit,” he said.
“It is an important few months for him. He’s been concentrating on training. We’ve enjoyed having him back. You can see he likes to be with England and enjoys that aspect of his professional football career.
“But he’s got to satisfy a few of his critics and, if you like, make certain a) he stays fit and b) gets his place back as one of the first names on the Arsenal team sheet. When he does that, he might be pushing for a first name on the England team sheet.”
The speedster is unlikely to get his starting spot at Arsenal back until his contract situation is resolved, which doesn’t look like happening until at least the summer.
With just over a year left on his current deal, Arsene Wenger will be hoping to tie him down to something a little more long term. If he can’t be persuaded, then it’s highly possible he’ll be sold come the end of the season.
Wenger was forced to jump through hoops to get Walcott to extend back in 2013, and he is unlikely to want to do so again. The pacey forward is not as vital to Arsenal anymore, so he won’t have as much bargaining power.
If he doesn’t think he will be able to get his spot back at the Emirates, then he may look at the possibility of a summer transfer in order to save his England career.