Arsene Wenger fears 'damage' to Walcott after England game

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted he's worried what psychological affect Roy Hodgson's tactical experiment will have on Theo Walcott.

The Gunners forward was used as a central striker and a number 10 against Italy on Tuesday night, before he was substituted shortly after the start of the second half.

It was a disappointing night for Walcott, who was given the chance to impress in a new role despite not getting back into the Arsenal starting eleven after recent injury.

But Wenger fears that Walcott's confidence will now be 'damaged' after the media panned his performance in Turin.

"Theo wants to do well, he is sensitive and I am a bit concerned about the damage the [Italy] game can have on his mind," Wenger told reporters before Arsenal's game against Liverpool on Saturday.

"Theo's strength is the quality of his movements, he wants to go to get on the end of things, he is not a guy who provides."

"It was complicated game for the (England) strikers because Italy defended with three centre-backs, two players in front of the two centre-backs and England played all in there so there was no room, no space.

"I don't think it was the intention of Roy Hodgson to play him there (as a number 10). It is maybe Rooney took the initiative during the game to play higher up and tell Theo to drop back.

"I haven't seen Roy Hodgson in the game standing up to say 'Walcott, you come and play in midfield and Rooney you go up front'. That is an initiative they took on the pitch."

Wenger believes Walcott will be quickly back to his best for Arsenal, but the winger faces a fight to win a spot in a competitive starting eleven.

"Theo is not fragile mentally, he is strong mentally, but he is disappointed because when you come back you always think you are ready," Wenger continued.

"I don't worry about Theo because he is not completely there yet and I told you that a few times he has been out for a year with a very bad injury and he is coming back."

The Gunners have a huge match at the Emirates Stadium against Liverpool this weekend, as the battle for a top four spot approaches its climax.

What do you think Arsenal fans - should Walcott start against Liverpool this weekend?

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