Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Arsene Wenger positive over Theo Walcott return

Theo Walcott will miss the World Cup

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in no doubt that Theo Walcott has the character to return "as strong as ever" from the knee injury which shattered his World Cup dream.

The 24-year-old is set to be sidelined for six months after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage in the FA Cup third-round win over Tottenham on Saturday.

Walcott's loss is a major blow for both Arsenal and England, with the pacy forward set to have been a key part of Roy Hodgson's plans in Brazil this summer.

Wenger, though, is confident Walcott's "balanced" personality can help recover fully from such a devastating setback.

"Theo is handling it as well as you can when you have had such a shock because he is mentally strong, is very balanced as a person and he can put it into perspective," said Wenger.

"We know that he will have the dedication and the attitude to come back as strong as ever. He has surgery and then it's rehab.

"You know that it is six months and that you hope it all goes well. The only thing I can say is it's very sad news for us and above all for him."

Despite Wenger's positive rhetoric for the future, the Gunners boss concedes the serious injury to Walcott removes a potent weapon in the team's attack, with the England forward having netted five goals since his return from a stomach injury.

"We lost a very talented player, a very intelligent player and a player who was just grabbing his form again," added Wenger.

"He can always decide a game through a final ball or through a goal. Sometimes in the same game he does both."

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