Has Theo Walcott Had His Last Chance for England?

Brian RhodesSenior Analyst IMarch 4, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 03:  Theo Walcott of England in action during the International Friendly match between England and Egypt at Wembley Stadium on March 3, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

As England sit a goal down after 23 minutes from a very well taken goal from Egypt's Zidan, Capello looks to his lackluster side, with less then an hour of the match complete he prepares to replace England's 2006 shock squad player Theo Walcott.

Walcott, who had been a rising star at Southampton before his switch to Arsenal with a price tag of £5 million, rising to £12 million depending on appearances for club and country.

However, since his move to Arsenal the Londoner has flattered to deceive and never really fulfilled his promise or potential. At club level or international level, Walcott has never looked the finished article.

On the one occasion he has looked like a complete player he scored three brilliantly taken goals to help England on the road to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, but was this luck?

Walcott was lucky to be playing for an England team  who were sublime going forward that day. Would he have been as potent if the rest of his team were not playing well above their normal abilities.

In Walcott's defence, his professional career has stuttered since his arrival at Arsenal through injury and has only played 70+ games scoring nine goals, many of them from the bench.

Ex-England international Chris Waddle was scathing of the Young Arsenal tyro, and his understanding of the game. He told the Times , "People keep saying he's young but Wayne Rooney understood the game at 16, 17."

Waddle went on, "I've never seen any difference in Walcott since he was at Southampton and broke into the team at a very young age. He just doesn't understand the game for me —where (he should) be running, when to run inside a full back, when to just play a one-two. It's all off the cuff.

"I just don't think he's got a football brain and he's going to have problems. Let's be honest, good defenders would catch him offside every time. I just don't know whether he studies the game, learns the game, or what. He's at a great club where they play fantastic football week-in, week-out, and I'm just surprised he's never developed his game."

"I'm surprised Walcott was in the squad. He doesn't play a lot of football, he hasn't done anything. he hasn't done anything for a long time and I think Croatia was a one-off."

After watching Walcott on a number of occasions this season it would appear that Waddle is not totally inaccurate in his assertion. Walcott, is easily read by experienced defenders but because of his pace he is able to beat slower full backs.

But that is the limit of his game.

Despite Fabio Capello making it clear that he will not pick players that are not in top form for their respective clubs, he has bucked this trend recently by picking a number of England players that have been far from their best in recent matches. Not least Chelsea's John Terry, Manchester United's Wes Brown, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, and Manchester City's Gareth Barry.

The inclusion of Walcott last night is still a surprise but after such a poor performance and the team playing so much better after his substitution, it would appear that unless he can find a rich vein of form for Arsenal, he will not be boarding a plane for South Africa this summer.