Walcott fit for Arsenal but contract row to rumble on

Theo Walcott is expected to return to the Arsenal squad for Monday evening’s match with Reading, the Daily Mirror has reported, but any hope held by Arsene Wenger of the England international agreeing a new contract with the club before the opening of the transfer window is likely to be in vain.

Walcott had been struggling with a calf injury and missed Arsenal’s penalty League Cup loss to League Two side Bradford City last week, but, like fellow recent absentee Olivier Giroud, is in line to return to Wenger’s squad for the trip to the Madejski Stadium. It will be Arsenal’s first visit to Reading since the 12-goal epic between the sides in the League Cup earlier this season, when the Gunners triumphed 7-5 after extra time.

But while Wenger can again call on Walcott, he cannot get the former Southampton forward to put pen to paper on a new deal. The Mirror believes it to be unlikely Walcott signs fresh terms before the start of the transfer window on January 1, or by the close of the transfer window at the end of next month. Walcott is also understood to be firm in his stance that he does not want to leave Arsenal.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea are all said to be watching the situation closely, but it is thought that Walcott will push to remain at the Emirates Stadium even if Arsenal attempt to sell him next month, regardless of whether or not he signs a new contract with the club.

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