England manager Roy Hodgson has offered some advice to Theo Walcott by explaining what the Arsenal star must do to win back his place in the Three Lions line-up, urging the fit-again forward to focus on forcing his way into Arsene Wenger's first-team plans on a more regular basis.
The 26-year-old has been limited to just a few cameo appearances since returning from a long-term injury at the start of 2015, and as a result has fallen down the pecking order for club and country.
Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that Walcott could be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium this summer, following reports of an alleged bust-up with the Gunners boss over wage demands that have resulted in contract talks stalling.
However, the former Southampton starlet took to Twitter to rubbish those rumours as completely false, suggesting that his main priority is doing as best he can with Arsenal before reopening negotiations with the north London club at the end of the season.
Walcott was selected in Hodgson's England squad for forthcoming games against Lithuania and Italy, but is not expected to be named in the starting XI for tonight's all-important Euro 2016 qualifier at Wembley.
"That's the thing about football, isn't it? If you're not careful, there's always someone behind you waiting to take your place," explained Hodgson in the build-up to Friday's game, as quoted by London 24. "It's a dog-eat-dog world.
"Every time, sometimes through no fault of your own, you can be injured. But then, suddenly, your position, which had looked very secure, suddenly six months down the line, is not so secure."
Asked whether he thought Walcott's career had come to a crossroads following the arrival of players like Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck and improved form of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hodgson provided a pragmatic response so as not to be seen criticising a player that still has potential for a bright future.
"It is an important few months for him," - Roy Hodgson on Theo Walcott
"Crossroads is probably quite a tough term," he reflected. "I don't want to be quoted saying he's at a crossroads. But it is an important few months for him.
"He's got to satisfy a few of his critics and, if you like, make certain that he stays fit and gets his place back as one of the first names on the Arsenal team sheet. When he does that, he might be pushing to be a first name on the England team sheet."
Next week's friendly in Turin could provide an opportunity to get a run-out for the Three Lions, when Hodgson is expected to reshuffle his squad and give some of his fringe players a chance to impress.
Arsenal fans: How regularly do you think Theo Walcott will play for Arsenal between now and the end of the season? Share your thoughts below…
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