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Football: Arsenal legend Wright urges Walcott to weather ‘rough’ patch

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Theo Walcott

Arsenal legend Ian Wright urged England international Theo Walcott not to quit the club on Tuesday despite a “rough” patch and speculation over his future.

Wright, speaking ahead of the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore, said Walcott, 26, needed to work hard and regain his place after a season plagued by injury.

The former teenage star, whose contract expires next year, is feeling his way back to form and manager Arsene Wenger says he hopes he will blossom into a centre-forward.

However, he was ineffective from the bench as Arsenal lost 1-0 to Swansea on Tuesday, a defeat which undermined their push for next year’s Champions League.

“As a professional he’s just got to wait his time… and push himself to make sure he starts in the first team for the start of next season,” Wright told reporters.

“That is what you’re meant to do as a professional, you’re not meant to, as soon as the going gets rough, you go to the exit, and that’s not what Theo wants to do,” he added.

Wenger has backed Walcott to make the switch from wing to striker, following in the footsteps of Arsenal’s record scorer Thierry Henry.

Talks for Walcott’s new contract are under way at the end of a Premier League season in which he has made just three starts after returning from a serious knee injury.

But Wright, who scored 185 goals for the Gunners, said: “We need people like Theo in the team, we need him in the squad, and so hopefully he’ll finish the season well.

“Fingers crossed we’ll win the FA cup and finish as high as we can. Theo will have a great pre-season, start the season well and this will all be forgotten.”

Wright added that he was “tired” about the debate over Wenger’s position at the club as Arsenal head for an 11th season without winning the Premier League.

But he said Arsenal, who play Aston Villa in the FA Cup final on May 30, need to strengthen with a new goalkeeper and defender in the July transfer window.

“He (Wenger)’s got another two to three years left (on his contract) and he is now in the position where he has got the financial clout to go into the market and buy the same players any of the top teams will try to buy,” said Wright.

Arsenal are one of three Premier League teams playing at the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore on July 15 and 18, along with Everton and Stoke City, plus a Singapore XI.


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