Currently both injured, Arsenal could do with Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott.
Short on options in midfield and attack, Arsène Wenger must be counting down the days until his players return. Wilshere is yet to play since the start of the season, while Walcott has been missing for two weeks leading into the international break.
The two players have struggled with a number of injuries before, as have the currently sidelined Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and it may lead to questioning of Arsenal’s methods.
Or, something to do with the way they were developed?
“Many of the national team, including Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Daniel Sturrudge, have significant previous injury histories,” said football medicine specialist Michael Davison.
“They have suffered from too much workload too young, as well as a lot of pressure to perfom early in the first team (eg. Wayne Rooney), and have suffered injuries earlier in their careers.”
Walcott, Wilshere, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain were all regular playing for Arsenal and their countries in their teenager years while their bodies were still developing, so it seems logical to assume it has had a lasting impact on them.
According to Davison, though, things are improving in youth football.
“The medical care in the academies and lower leagues 10 years ago was nowhere near what it is now. Whereas they were encouraged to play in pain when younger, some, such as Sturridge, seem to have swung the other way and do not play when they do not feel 100 per cent.”
Even still, it’s too late for current players. Perhaps a warning to the future, top players like Michael Owen and Cesc Fàbregas have also hit the very top as teenagers but fallen away sooner than you would expect.
I, for one, will be looking on in interest to see if this trend develops or continues as youth footballers play increasingly regular amounts of first team football.