ARSENAL’S Theo Walcott firmly believes missing out on last summer’s World Cup has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Having featured in the three warm-up matches leading up to the announcement of Fabio Capello’s squad, despite some indifferent form, Walcott was expected to play a significant role in South Africa.
Capello, however, lived up to his reputation for never allowing sentiment to cloud a difficult selection decision and cut Walcott from the 23-man roster, delivering the news by mobile phone while the forward was relaxing on the golf course.
Though distraught at the time, Walcott, 21, is sage enough now to recognise the unscheduled break in a career that has lurched from one extreme to the next has been of huge benefit, while the talks he recently sought with Capello in order to clarify the reasons behind his World Cup omission have given him renewed peace of mind ahead of tomorrow’s friendly against Denmark.
“I had a good pre-season and started the season brightly, it’s always nice when the manager’s got faith in you – even though I didn’t go to the World Cup,” he said. “I’ve had ups and downs in my career and I felt I needed that mental break from it all so it may have done me a favour.
“It was his decision to make and I respected it. It’s helped me out so much this season, having that break and those quotes from the manager as well.”
Those quotes Walcott mentions refer to Capello’s admission, last month, that leaving the former Southampton starlet behind was an error of judgement on his part.
Walcott added: “I wanted to know why I didn’t go and I had a conversation with him.
“It’s got my mind at ease, I can build on the manager’s belief in me and I think I need to start believing in myself – which I have, my performances have been better this season. It puts a smile on your face if the manager’s thinking it’s a mistake.”
Walcott’s club colleague Jack Wilshere is likely to make his first start for the senior side tomorrow, and Walcott is billing the 19-year-old as the English Cesc Fabregas.
He said: “Cesc spots everything. But Jack breaks down the play very well too. I’m sure if he’s given the chance he will grab it with both hands.”
WALCOTT: THEN AND NOW
* all stats based on Premier League games
WALCOTT: THEN AND NOW
Games 22, Goals 3, Assists 4.
Games 4, Goals 0, Assists 0.
Games 23, Goals 0, Assists 5.
Games 22, Goals 3, Assists 2.
Games 22, Goals 4, Assists 6.
Games 26, Goals 5, Assists 5.
Wilshere avoids FA wrap over tweeting
ARSENAL’S Jack Wilshere will not face a fine for his comments on Twitter about referee Phil Dowd. The FA looked into the matter after Wilshere tweeted: “Inconsistent refereeing needs to stop, it’s killing the game.” Former Liverpool star Ryan Babel was fined in January for a post on the social networking site.