Wenger backs Theo to bounce back
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in no doubt that England forward Theo Walcott has the character to return "as strong as ever" from the knee injury which shattered his World Cup dream.
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The 24-year-old is set to be sidelined for six months after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage when making a defensive tackle in the FA Cup third-round win over Tottenham on Saturday.
Walcott's loss is a major blow for both club and country, with the pacy forward set to have been a key part of England manager Roy Hodgson's plans in Brazil this summer.
Wenger, though, is confident Walcott's "balanced" personality can help recover fully from such a devastating setback.
"Theo is handling it as well as you can when you have had such a shock because he is mentally strong, is very balanced as a person and he can put it into perspective," Wenger said on Arsenal Player.
"We know that he will have the dedication and the serious attitude to come back as strong as ever."
Wenger added: "He has surgery and then it's rehab. You know that it is six months and that you hope it all goes well. The only thing I can say is it's very sad news for us and above all for him."
Wenger was given a timely boost on Thursday as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his return from injury.
The 20-year-old midfielder had not played since the opening day of the season because of a knee problem, but featured for the opening 45 minutes for the club's under-21 side against their Fulham counterparts at Motspur Park.
Despite Wenger's positive rhetoric for the future, the Gunners boss concedes the serious injury to Walcott removes a potent weapon in the team's attack, with the England forward having netted five goals since his return from a stomach injury.
"We lost a very talented player, a very intelligent player and a player who was just grabbing his form again," the Arsenal manager continued.
"From game to game he became more influential, you have seen a complete player.
"He can always decide a game through a final ball or through a goal. Sometimes in the same game he does both.
"I felt against Tottenham he had a very convincing performance because he integrates well our style of play as he has been here for so many years now.
"When we combine at a high pace he is involved in it because he understands exactly what we want to do."