Arsenal winger Walcott could miss England’s World Cup qualifiers

The stomach strain suffered by Theo Walcott could lead to the Arsenal winger missing England’s climactic World Cup qualification double header in October, the Daily Mirror has reported.

Tests have revealed the injury is more severe than first thought and could take up to two weeks to heal – putting in doubt Walcott’s participation in the international fixtures on October 11 and 15. Roy Hodgson’s side first play Montenegro and then Poland, needing positive results to guarantee a place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But Walcott’s absence is a more immediate problem for Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, who was already contending with a lengthy injury list before Walcott was struck down ahead of Sunday’s win over Stoke City. The attacking midfield position is a particular problem for Wenger, as he was already without Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Jack Wilshere will be rested for the Capital One Cup tie against West Bromwich Albion.

Youngster Serge Gnabry was handed a start against the Potters, with Japan winger Ryo Miyaichi stepping on to the bench. Wenger does at least have Mikel Arteta back fit, and the Spaniard could replace Wilshere against the Baggies.

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