Walcott doubtful for Arsenal's season-opener

Winger ruled out for England's friendly against Italy

Theo Walcott is a doubtful starter for Arsenal's season-opening clash against Sunderland on Saturday.

The winger was forced to pull out of the England squad for Wednesday's friendly against Italy in Berne because of a thigh injury.

Walcott has become the fourth member of Roy Hodgson's England squad to pull out of the international.

He reported for duty on Monday with a slight thigh problem which has not eased sufficiently for Hodgson to think it worthwhile for the Arsenal winger to make the journey to Switzerland.
 
A statement on the FA website read: "Walcott reported with a slightly bruised thigh and was unable to train fully, so has returned to his club as a precaution."
 
Gunners colleague Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, plus keeper Joe Hart and striker Daniel Sturridge have also pulled out, but Hodgson has opted not to bring in any replacements, other than Joleon Lescott who was called up on Monday.
 
Hodgson revealed Walcott picked up his injury in Arsenal's friendly against Cologne.
 
However, he hopes the forward will recover from the knock in time for the Gunners' opening Premier League encounter.
 
"Theo took a kick on his thigh rather badly and we were rather hoping a couple of days would see him right again but unfortunately given the recovery time, we've had to leave him at Arsenal's training ground," Hodgson added.
 
"Hopefully he can recover in time for Saturday's game.
 
"I don't think it's a serious injury but it's a kick that takes one or two days to recover from."
 

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