Arsenal fury as Theo Walcott clobbered by San Marino goalie

Oct 14, 2012
Bill Mann

Not again: Arsenal robbed of another star player by injury sustained on international duty

THEO WALCOTT will be sidelined for at least two weeks after being poleaxed by goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini during England’s 5-0 thrashing of San Marino at Wembley on Friday. As a result, the 23-year-old Arsenal winger will miss England’s next World Cup qualifier against Poland on Tuesday.

To the undoubted fury of club manager Arsene Wenger and Gunners fans, Walcott will also be unavailable for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Norwich next weekend and, according to the latest medical bulletins, he’s a doubt for the Champions League showdown with Schalke on Wednesday week.

Walcott has told friends the sixth-minute collision with Simoncini felt like being “hit by a bus”. Though he was able to walk off the pitch following lengthy treatment by the England medical team, Walcott’s condition deteriorated once he was back in the dressing-room and he was taken to hospital.

According to The Sun, Walcott remained under observation on Saturday and underwent further chest scans “after coughing up blood”. It’s believed he has a bruised lung and is in pain when he takes a breath.

The challenge on Walcott incensed England manager Roy Hodgson. “Theo was pretty badly beaten up,” he said. “If I described the challenge as reckless I would be being kind. It was a very fierce challenge.”

In Hodgson’s view Simoncini should have been sent off and the Three Lions awarded a penalty. As it was, England had to wait until 35 minutes before they were finally given a penalty when Simoncini was at it again, this time upending Danny Welbeck. Wayne Rooney scored from the spot and the floodgates opened in the second half as England stormed to the top of Group H.

Hodgson later declared himself happy with the result but one can only imagine how Wenger views Walcott’s injury. The Frenchman is not a fan of international football interfering with the domestic season, particularly when his Arsenal players have a history of picking up serious injuries in such matches.

Walcott required shoulder surgery four years ago after an England training ground incident on the eve of a match against Germany, while former Arsenal striker Robin van Persie was out for six months in 2009 after tearing ankle ligaments playing for Holland.

Then there’s Jack Wilshere, one of the most exciting talents to come out of Arsenal in years. The 20-year-old hasn’t played a competitive game for the Gunners since May 2011 because of an ankle injury sustained playing for England against Switzerland that same summer.

Just three months before that incident, Wenger had warned England about “overloading” Wilshere. The midfielder had played more than 60 games in the 2010-2011 season and Wenger was particularly unhappy when Wilshere started two matches in four days for the Three Lions, claiming it “defied commonsense”.

In words that were to prove grimly prophetic, Wenger than said he intended to sit down with the Football Association in the summer of 2011 and discuss international availability for Wilshere and Walcott. "Experience helps you only to anticipate problems," the Frenchman said. "You know this car will hit the wall at some stage and you see it a little bit earlier than somebody who has less experience.”

Unfortunately for Wenger, not even his experience could prevent Wilshere hitting the wall against Switzerland in July 2011. He’ll be hoping Walcott hasn’t gone the same way after hitting Simoncini.

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