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Arsene Wenger upset at pressure on Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott
Walcott has made only five league starts for Arsenal this season

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels England winger Theo Walcott is under "terrible pressure" to ensure that he is fit for World Cup.

Wenger said the media spotlight on Walcott, 20, is putting him under strain as he recovers from injury, but is confident he will make the squad.

"The World Cup is not today - it is in June," he told Arsenal's website.

"The problem is that everyone has the national team in their mind and... you want everybody to be on top today."

The Gunners boss added: "It's terrible pressure. But that's the modern media."

Walcott made only his fifth Premier League start of the season for Arsenal on Saturday in their 2-0 victory against Sunderland - a performance watched by England manager Fabio Capello.

The winger's season has been hampered by injuries to his back, knee, hamstring and ribs, but Wenger believes Capello will include him in his squad for the World Cup in South Africa this summer.

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"When players have been out for a while, it takes a while to get back to your best with confidence, sharpness and zip," stated Wenger, whose team are third in the Premier League.

"That will come back with Theo."

Walcott, who cost the Gunners £5m when they signed him from Southampton in 2006, has eight full England caps and has scored three goals for the international team - all in a World Cup qualifier in Croatia in September 2008.

The winger has also featured for England's Under-21s, and Wenger said before last summer's European Under-21 Championship that he did not want him to play for both international sides because of the workload.

However, England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce played down Wenger's fears, saying: "If you're picked for the national team play all the games you can."

When players have been out for a while, it takes a while to get back to your best

Arsene Wenger

The Gunners manager also said a good season for Arsenal and their England internationals could boost Capello's chances of success at the tournament in South Africa, which starts on 11 June.

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

Meanwhile, Capello will name his squad at the weekend for England's friendly against Egypt at Wembley on 3 March.

He must pick an initial 35-man World Cup squad by 12 May, with a 1 June cut-off date set by Fifa for teams to name their final 23-man squads.

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see also
Arsenal 2-0 Sunderland
20 Feb 10 |  Premier League
Walcott suffers hamstring injury
03 Dec 09 |  Arsenal
Wenger cools Walcott injury fears
20 Oct 09 |  Arsenal
Pearce tips Walcott for seniors
08 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Walcott left out of England squad
04 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Pearce stands defiant on Walcott
09 Jun 09 |  Internationals
Wenger fear over Walcott workload
25 May 09 |  Arsenal
Walcott agrees new Arsenal deal
08 May 09 |  Arsenal
Croatia 1-4 England
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Young Personality - Theo Walcott
10 Dec 06 |  Other Sport
Arsenal complete Walcott transfer
20 Jan 06 |  Arsenal

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