Int Football – Walcott out after dislocating shoulder

Arsene Wenger’s dislike of international friendlies is set to intensify after Arsenal‘s Theo Walcott suffered a dislocated shoulder in training ahead of England‘s encounter with Germany in Berlin.

2008 England Theo Walcott - 0

The 19-year-old was taken to hospital in agony after suffering the dislocation in a freak accident as he fell in the rain at the Olympic Stadium.

Although Walcott’s shoulder was quickly put back into place, the player was in understandable discomfort when he returned to England’s team hotel, where an assessment will be made in the morning over his return to London.

“Our priority is Theo and making him as comfortable as possible before he returns to England,” said coach Fabio Capello.

“We are all very disappointed but the important thing is for Theo to travel home and make a quick recovery.”

An hour earlier, Capello had stressed how understanding England’s major club bosses were over his new philosophy for examining players apparently unfit for international combat only a few days after completing duties for the teams which pay their wages.

If ever there was a test of Capello’s relationships, this will be it.

Along with Sir Alex Ferguson, Rafael Benitez and Martin O’Neill, Wenger has never made any secret of his belief that friendly matches are a meaningless inclusion in a packed schedule.

And in the immediate aftermath of his side’s defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday, he again outlined his opposition to this week’s matches.

“It is particularly not welcome at the moment because it is at a period where you want your players to recover a little bit,” he said.

“I don’t see what you gain from this friendly because there is no game. You can explain a friendly to prepare for an official match but after this there is no international game for four months.”

As he digests the news from Germany, Wenger will know Arsenal are the ones who will suffer most from Walcott’s unfortunate accident.

With eight major stars missing already, the loss of Walcott is just another name added to that list.

His absence gives someone else, probably Shaun Wright-Phillips, an opportunity to excel in a makeshift England team, with Capello knowing Walcott will be fully fit again before they resume their World Cup qualifying campaign against the Ukraine on April 1.

For Wenger, the consequences are much more immediate and far-reaching. Similar injuries in the past have seen players ruled out for a month.

If Walcott were out for that long, he would miss four league games and the rest of Arsenal’s Champions League group campaign.

That would include key visits to Manchester City and Chelsea, with Liverpool due at the Emirates on December 21, while Arsenal’s place in the Champions League knock-out phase is by no means secure even though they currently top Group G.

Wenger’s opinion is not hard to guess and the fall-out could be explosive, no matter what soothing words the FA tried to use in their statement confirming Walcott’s injury.

“During tonight’s training session Theo Walcott dislocated his right shoulder after falling on the pitch,” said an FA statement.

“Theo was taken to hospital, where he has had the shoulder put back into place.

“Theo will return to the team hotel and a decision will be made in the morning by the medical staff as to when Theo can fly home.

“Arsenal’s medical staff were advised of the injury soon after the incident.”

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