Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has imposed a deadline of Christmas for the resolution of Theo Walcott's contract saga.
Walcott's present deal expires in summer 2013, while talks over a new contract are yet to produce a signature, with the England international believed to be holding out for improved terms and the Gunners insisting they will not break their wage structure.
The winger has been linked to both Manchester City and Liverpool in recent months, and speculation over his future returned to the headlines following his eye-catching hat-trick against Reading in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.
Now Wenger has stressed the need for clear, decisive action. "I want [the contract situation] resolved by Christmas," he said. "There is urgency."
Wenger was forced to sell Robin van Persie over the summer after he refused to sign a new contract with the club, and he may opt to cash in on Walcott during January if the deadlock persists.
In the short-term, Wenger has confirmed that he intends to give Walcott more chances in a central striking role - although he is unlikely to be thrown into that position against Manchester United on Saturday.
"His right position is through the middle in the future," Wenger said. "He loves to score goals, he has good pace and makes intelligent runs. He is a good finisher. I will see how he recovers, I don't know if he will play [against United]."