Arsenal forward Theo Walcott has been a surprise omission from Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming matches with Germany and Lithuania, and the manager has revealed that the news was not taken well.
The Gunners winger has been in top form this season, scoring 17 goals in all competitions thus far, and was expected to keep his place in the international set-up coming into these matches.
Gareth Southgate opted not to include him however, and called him to tell him his decision, but Walcott, who was celebrating his birthday at the time of the call, was angered by this.
The newly appointed England coach confirmed the disagreement, and maintains that his player had some valid points, but his decision was final.
Southgate said; ‘I’ve got to say he wasn’t chuffed to bits to get the call, and I understand that. Did he argue his case? Yes. Quite rightly, he said: “I’m one of the leading goalscorers in the league.”
‘I don’t mind being challenged on that. I totally respect that. I don’t expect him to be happy but I’ve got to make decisions and I think it was the right thing to call him to talk that through – even if the timing wasn’t great.’
On that note, the option to not call him up to the squad is even more surprising considering both Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane are forced absences through injury, but Gareth went onto explain what influenced his decision.
‘I don’t think he transferred his early-season form into the matches we had in October and November with England.
‘He’s a player I still like. I’ve said to him that I’m not ruling him out but, in terms of just having him as a squad player, I think it’s a better opportunity for me to look at one or two others. With our wide players – the way we’re playing at the moment we like to get the players between the lines slightly differently. Theo is more a player who runs in behind defences.’
The only Gunner to make the squad was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Jack Wilshere also overlooked in favour of some new players into the fold.
Was Theo right to argue his case? Did Gareth’s reasoning seem fair? Pat J