Arsene Wenger backs Theo Walcott to make England’s World Cup squad next year but will he really?

Wenger backs Theo to make Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia but reckons this is a ‘vital season’ for the 28-year-old.

“This is his chance. It is a vital season for him. He is focused, determined, hungry and is always in the squad,” Wenger said.

“He doesn’t talk a lot but he works very hard.

“He talks when he has something to tell you, ‘Boss, I want to play’ is something I hear many times from everyone but that is what you want.

“This is a big year for us because he is 28 and he was at the World Cup when he was 16 and then missed the next two.”

Theo hasn’t made an appearance for the Three Lions since 15 November 2016 when he played 63 minutes against Spain in a friendly, which ended 2-2. This is despite previously being capped 46 times and scoring eight goals for his country after making his debut in May 2006.

This was just after Southgate was appointed manager of the senior team. Since then, the forward’s not been selected for the squad at all.

theo walcott v doncaster rovers
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 20: Theo Walcott of Arsenal scores his sides first goal past Ian Lawlor of Doncaster Rovers during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Doncaster Rovers at Emirates Stadium on September 20, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

With Theo making even fewer starts and getting ever less playing time, I don’t see him getting picked for the World Cup squad next year either. He’s yet to make a start in the Premier League this season and has only been subbed on twice.

What’s more, Southgate has been opting to either start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in Theo’s right-wing role, Raheem Sterling up front as part of a 3-5-2, or even Marcus Rashford.

Rashford is on a roll for Manchester United, scoring five goals in nine appearances this season already, and Sterling’s not going to get dropped. However, with the Ox struggling to get starts at new club Liverpool, perhaps Theo has a chance. He needs to get games though.