As Theo Walcott was being stretchered off after having hyper-extended his knee on a challenge, it was hoped that Walcott’s injury would be nothing serious. Although initial reports stated he would only be out a month, after a further diagnosis all the worst fears and thoughts came to be a reality as it was announced earlier today that Walcott would be out six months with a knee ligament injury.
While it goes without saying that this is bad news for Arsenal and their chances of winning the Premier League this season, this is especially bad news for England and coach Roy Hodgson as he will not be able to count on having Walcott as one of the 23 he was going to select to represent England at the 2014 World Cup. This will force Hodgson to try and figure out whom he can rely on as being his right sided winger or a potential striker, two roles which Walcott filled and covered.
Now the argument can be made that Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon or Andros Townsend can play in the right wing position. That said, neither one is the finisher in front of goal that Walcott has developed into nor are they as consistent in their play as Walcott has shown to be in his appearances. It is this dependability and consistency in his play — along with the fact that Townsend has had a dip in form here while Lennon has been known to play well and fall off the map for a stretch — that must concern Hodgson with the loss of Walcott.
Not only does Walcott’s absence hurt Hodgson’s right sided midfield options, but it also hurts his ability to be able to mix and change formations either before a game or within a game itself. Walcott’s ability to play as a striker and in a central position was an added bonus to his game and a very useful option given the opponent. The ability to play with either a Daniel Sturridge or Wayne Rooney as the lone striker with Walcott in support is taken away as a viable and successful tactical option that could have utilized. Any way you look at it, Walcott’s injury leaves Hodgson with several selection and tactical headaches between now and the start of the tournament this summer.