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Wenger to unleash Walcott as a striker

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he plans to play Theo Walcott in a striking role.

Walcott’s future at Arsenal has been speculated in recent weeks with talks of new contract being delayed, but Wenger hopes that this change in position will help persuade the player to stay at the club.

The England international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, says his future at the club depends on which position he plays in.

Asked whether he will consider Walcott as a striker, Wenger said: “I did it with Henry and Van Persie and I think I will do it with Walcott.”

Walcott has started the season brightly, with three goals in all competitions so far for the Gunners.

Meanwhile, Wenger said he would continue to take precautions in easing Jack Wilshere back into first-team action.

The 20-year-old has endured a torrid spell on the sidelines since suffering an ankle injury in a pre-season friendly against the New York Red Bulls in 2011.

He had been hopeful of making a return to the squad in January of this year, but experienced the first of several setbacks, with a stress fracture to the heel that ruled him out of the season entirely.

Wilshere was then blighted by a minor knee problem in April which has kept him out of action until now but having made his competitive come back in an under-21s match against West Brom this week, Arsenal fans are hopeful of seeing their midfield maestro play in the first team imminently.

But Wenger has urged his young talent to remain patient in his rehabilitation, with the midfielder set to make another under-21 appearance next week.

“He is doing very well but we need to be patient. He needs a progressive build-up,” Wenger said.

Another injury concern for the Gunners has been first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

The Polish shot-stopper has been out of action since September’s 6-1 thrashing of Southampton, when he picked up an ankle injury.

And Wenger has now admitted the 22-year-old is set to continue his spell on the sidelines with Vito Mannone continuing his run as the Pole’s deputy.

“He is two to three weeks away from practising normally,” Wenger said.

“It takes five or six weeks to heal.”

Fri 5 October, 2012
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