Winger Walcott wishes to start up front to stay

ARSENAL forward Theo Walcott is adamant that the possibility of being selected to start as a striker will be a significant influence when he makes his decision about whether or not to stay at the club.

The 23-year-old’s contract expires at the end of the season and manager Arsene Wenger has already conceded it will be “difficult to extend his stay” if an agreement had not been made by April but Walcott, who rejected a new £75,000 a week, five-year contract in August, wants to be regularly selected as a striker if he is to remain.

“I’ve been judged, with people saying it’s all about money. It’s never been that with me,” said Walcott, who arrived from Southampton in 2006 for £12.5m.

“Playing up front is important. It’s one of the main factors for me. I signed as a striker. I’ve learnt my trade out on the wing.

“Hopefully, I’ll get to play up front in the next few games. It’s frustrating being on the bench, but it’s one of those things I have to deal with.

“It’s been a slow process. It’s not going to happen any time soon. My last contract took six months to do. It’s one of those things that is frustrating for me. Hopefully it can be sorted.”

Despite his history as a regular in Arsenal’s starting line up, Walcott has been left on the bench while the uncertainty over his future remains. Should trials for Gervinho and Olivier Giroud as the team’s central striker eventually prove fruitless, Walcott may be given a chance but with the team in such fine form there would is presently no reason for Wenger to experiment.