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Barnes: Walcott better as a wide player

Former England winger John Barnes has questioned whether Theo Walcott should play as a central striker for his country and suggested he would be better off remaining in the wide role he has filled throughout his career.

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Walcott, 23, has shown promise in a central role after being handed his chance to play there by his Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

But Barnes has said he is unconvinced that he has what it takes to form a scoring partnership with Wayne Rooney at international level.

"I don't understand this whole idea of Theo Walcott playing up front," he told talkSPORT.

"Theo has been scoring goals from a wide position. Let him come in from wide areas, and he will score goals. Frank Lampard, and David Platt before him, got goals regularly, but they didn't say: 'Because we score, we want to play up front.'

"Theo has to understand that his best position is coming in from the wide areas, where he can still score his goals."

Barnes believes Roy Hodgson's new-look England line-up has the potential to cause a few surprises at the 2014 World Cup.

"Roy recognises that he has to re-evaluate his squad as a lot of the senior players have gone and he has had to try a lot of players," the ex-Liverpool star added.

"There are some good players in the under-21 side as well, so it looks like he will have a big pool of talent to choose from.

"This England team has got great potential, and the good thing is we have got some time to blood the new players like Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and now they have to realise that potential.

"We saw England trying to use inexperienced players at the European Championships last summer and it didn't really work. They need time to develop."

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