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Page last updated at 21:52 GMT, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 22:52 UK

World Cup 2010: Waddle not surprised by Walcott axe

Fabio Capello drops Theo Walcott for 2010 World Cup

Capello drops Walcott for World Cup

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott's omission from England's 23-man World Cup squad is no surprise according to former England winger Chris Waddle.

At 17, Walcott was a shock inclusion in England's World Cup squad in Germany in 2006 but since then Waddle believes the winger has failed to develop.

"Since I first saw him at Southampton till today, he has never changed his game in my eyes," said Waddle.

"I have nothing against him but it's no surprise to me he's not on the plane."

Walcott, 21, started both of England's World Cup warm-up games against Mexico and Japan but was one of seven players trimmed from the provisional 30-man squad by boss Fabio Capello, along with Darren Bent, Adam Johnson, Scott Parker, Michael Dawson, Leighton Baines and Tom Huddlestone.


Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown worked under Walcott's current club boss Arsene Wenger and has seen the Frenchman mould players such as Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas into world-class internationals.

But with Tottenham's Aaron Lennon, Aston Villa's James Milner, Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips and Chelsea's Joe Cole being selected ahead of Walcott, Keown suggested Walcott still needed to work on the mental side of the game.

"He runs at a frightening pace, he is rapid, but when he gets into those positions he is not able to think quickly enough, does he pull it back, does he shoot or does he go on his own?" Keown told BBC Radio 5 live.

"His decision making is the problem, he hasn't been able to do that."

Wenger signed the then 16-year-old Walcott from Southampton in January 2006, for an initial £5m.

He has become a bit of a one-trick pony in terms of going for the line; people just double up on him

Martin Keown

And later that year, having never played a Premier League game, England boss Sven Goran Eriksson controversially took Walcott to the World Cup at the expense of Jermain Defoe.

It seemed Walcott would finally fulfil his potential when he got England's World Cup qualifying campaign off to a flying start, scoring a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Croatia in Zagreb on 10 September 2008.

But Against Wenger's wishes his young player was asked to play for the England Under-21s at the European Championships in 2009, picking up the first in a series of injuries to his shoulder, knee, hamstring and ribs which limited him to 30 appearances for Arsenal last season, scoring four goals.

"There's a shared responsibility here for a player who hasn't developed in an England shirt or Arsenal shirt," said Keown.

"He was asked to play in the England Under-21 team last summer, he got injured and then didn't start until December.

And Keown believes Walcott will need to progress at Arsenal next season.

Aaron Lennon, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott in 2006
Walcott was taken to the World Cup in 2006 but did not play

"Under Capello it seemed as if he has been getting it right in the main, under Wenger, no, there has been a problem, whether or not that is the coaches' fault, it has to be the players, he has just not played enough games," said Keown.

"He has become a bit of a one-trick pony in terms of going for the line. People just double up on him.

"When he has got time and space then he finds it a problem and he has got to sort that out with his game."

Waddle, who played for England at World Cups in 1986 and 1990, first criticised Walcott after a disappointing performance in England's friendly win over Egypt in March, saying he "doesn't understand the game" and lacks "a football brain".

Reminded of those comments, Waddle told BBC Radio 5 live: "I'll still stand by them.

"It's just he never seems to be in the right position, when he gives the ball he's out the game. He will give it and never go again. He comes off the line and doesn't know where to go and he just doesn't seem to understand the game.

I'm surprised Theo's not going. He's had a bit of an indifferent season with injuries but he's a good player

Harry Redknapp

"He wouldn't be at this level if he was a bad player. But you should learn off other players.

"He's played with great players, watching and training with them, and that's what surprises me, that his game has never developed."

However England have not lost any of the 11 games in which Walcott has featured and Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp expressed his surprise at the omission.

"I thought Aaron Lennon was a certainty, I thought Theo was a certainty," Redknapp told BBC Radio 5 live.

"I thought both of them would go. I'm surprised Theo's not going.

"He's had a bit of an indifferent season with injuries but he's a good player."

England travel to South Africa on Wednesday evening.

The World Cup begins on 11 June, with England's first game coming a day later against the United States in Rustenburg.

And Waddle questioned Capello's decision to leave another winger, Manchester City's Johnson, at home.

"Maybe Adam Johnson has come in a little too late. His form at Man City was terrific," said Waddle.

"We have got some good passers, a lot of legs, we have got players who can compete and get around the park but sometimes when a game needs changing, someone like Adam Johnson can do that and could feel a little unlucky not to be there."

England's 23-man squad for the World Cup finals:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham).

Defenders: Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King (Tottenham), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa).

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), James Milner (Aston Villa), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City).

Forwards: Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).


Watch highlights of England's World Cup qualifying campaign

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see also
Walcott left out of England squad
01 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup scouting: the final squad
31 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
Japan 1-2 England
30 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
England 3-1 Mexico
24 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup guide - England
10 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
England's World Cup qualifying highlights
03 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Wenger tips Walcott for greatness
05 Mar 10 |  Arsenal
Walcott & Lennon in England squad
08 May 06 |  England
Arsenal complete Walcott transfer
20 Jan 06 |  Arsenal

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