Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has expressed his concerns over the state of mind of forward Theo Walcott after he was exposed in the number 10 role for England during the week, according to The Telegraph.
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Walcott started the game against Italy up front alongside Harry Kane, but was switched further back into the top of the diamond in order to accommodate Wayne Rooney in a more familiar striking position.
Stats showed that the 26-year-old touched the ball a paltry 14 times in 55 minutes before being replaced by Ross Barkley. To make matters worse, his rival on the wing in the national team, Andros Townsend, scored a spectacular equaliser to pile even more pressure on him.
And now Wenger has expressed a serious concern for the winger’s headspace as he continues to struggle to get back into top form following his recent return from injury.
“Theo’s sensitive and I’m a bit concerned about the damage that game can have on his mind,” said Wenger.
“Being exposed like that, people have a harsh judgment on him that is not deserved.”
“Theo’s strength is the quality of his movements, he wants to go to get on the end of things. He’s not a guy who provides.
“I don’t think it was the intention of Roy Hodgson to play him there. It was maybe Rooney who took the initiative during the game to play higher up and tell Theo to drop back. I haven’t seen Roy Hodgson in the game standing up to say: ‘Walcott, you come and play in midfield and Rooney you go up front.’ That’s an initiative they took on the pitch.
“It was a complicated game for the strikers because Italy defended with three centre-backs, two players in front of the two centre-backs and England played all in there so there was no room, no space.”