Arsenal and England suffer as Walcott out for six months

Gunners forward to miss rest of the season and World Cup with serious knee injury

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 08:28 ON Tue 7 Jan 2014

NOT one month, but six. That was the devastating news from doctors yesterday after they assessed the extent of Theo Walcott's knee injury, picked up against Spurs on Saturday. 

The Arsenal striker was initially expecting to spend two to four weeks on the sidelines after being stretchered off in the closing stages of the Gunners' FA Cup victory over Spurs at the weekend. The 24-year-old didn't seem in much pain as he left the field of play, exchanging pleasantries with the Spurs fans who seconds earlier had been allegedly pelting him with coins.

But the news published on the Arsenal website on Monday evening gave the lie to those images. "Theo has sustained a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee," began the statement. "He will have surgery in the near future and is expected to be out for at least six months, thus missing the rest of the season and the World Cup."

The statement added: "Everyone at Arsenal wishes Theo a speedy recovery and we look forward to seeing him back on a football pitch as soon as possible."

The news will be a heavy blow for both Arsenal and England, not to mention for the player himself who was a surprise omission from the Three Lions' 2010 World Cup squad for South Africa. On that occasion then coach Fabio Capello didn't believe Walcott could bring much to the side, but there was no doubt the Arsenal forward would have made the cut for Brazil.

Former Arsenal and England forward Ian Wright told the BBC that the news would hurt both Arsene Wenger and Roy Hodgson. "They [Arsenal] played him in the centre against Spurs and he terrorised them so it's a massive blow for England," said Wright. "It's a big blow... because the boys are comfortable with Theo being around and they know the pace he gives."

Writing on his twitter account, Walcott's Arsenal team-mate Aaron Ramsey said: "Gutted for Theo, he'll come back stronger after this. Been fantastic for us so far this season. Have a speedy recovery mate."

There was less sympathy from Spurs fans and other wags, some of whom mocked Walcott's 2-0 gesture on Saturday.

But at least Walcott won't have to hobble before the beak to answer a misconduct charge as a result of the Tottenham incident. In a statement issued on Monday, the Football Association announced that it would be taking no further action against Walcott although he had been "reminded of his responsibilities". · 

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