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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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By ESPN Staff

Walcott set to be named in World Cup squad?

Arsenal's teenage striker Theo Walcott is line for a shock call-up to the England World Cup squad, according to newspaper reports this morning.

Walcott, 17, has not played first-team football since his £12million move from Southampton in January but is regarded as one of the hottest talents in the game.

It is suggested England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is considering bringing Walcott into his planning because of fitness concerns surrounding first-choice strikers Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen.

Rooney will miss the start of the tournament in Germany with a broken metatarsal while Owen is yet to regain full fitness after a similar injury.

Eriksson is set to name a 23-man squad - which must be trimmed to 21 for the tournament itself - along with four, or possibly five if Walcott is included, standby players this afternoon.

The pacy Walcott burst onto the scene this scene earlier this season with five goals for Championship side Southampton.

He became the most expensive British 16-year-old in history when Gunners boss Arsene Wenger lured him to Highbury in the last transfer window.

Wenger has yet to test the player in a competitive match but believes he could do a job for England if called upon.

The Frenchman said: 'Theo needs games at the moment but he has something very special. It would be a gamble but he is an option.'

The Walcott theory is a shock development as far as former England captain Bryan Robson is concerned.

The West Brom manager has little doubt the teenager is a star of the future but appears unconvinced the time is yet right for a player who has yet to play for Arsenal.

'I think that would be a bit of a surprise [if Walcott were in Eriksson's squad],' said Robson.

Even so, out of respect for Wenger's judgment he has a high regard for Walcott's emerging talent.

'It doesn't matter what age you are - if you are good enough you should be in there,' Robson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

'He has a lot of pace about him and has not had a chance at Arsenal yet to prove his worth.

'Arsene Wenger has picked these young lads and slotted them into the Arsenal side - and the type of money he paid for Walcott proves he thinks he is a very good player.'