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Walcott to delay shoulder operation

Theo Walcott is set to postpone shoulder surgery in an effort to aid Arsenal's quest for silverware.

The 17-year-old netted his first Gunners goal in yesterday's eventful Carling Cup Final defeat by Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium.

Walcott has struggled to make a consistent impact at Arsenal this term but his overall display in Cardiff earned a glowing tribute from Arsene Wenger.

And, with fellow youngster Abou Diaby facing a spell on the sidelines after damaging his ankle in the incident which left John Terry unconscious, Wenger is ready to delay Walcott's operation so the 17-year-old can play a part in Arsenal's run-in, which continues with an FA Cup fifth round replay at Blackburn on Wednesday.

'We had planned a shoulder operation for Theo but maybe I will try to delay it because we have lost Abou today,' Wenger said.

'I wanted to let him have the surgery so he can start next season without any problem. It is not a big operation but it looked to me like he can play with it.'

Although he is part of a blossoming Arsenal side which exceeded all expectations in the Carling Cup this term, Walcott seems to have been weighed down by the combination of his £12million transfer fee and his amazing call into the England squad for last summer's World Cup.

Having selected Walcott, Sven-Goran Eriksson then proceeded not to play the teenager, which only heaped more pressure on the player, with Wenger admitting it was time he delivered a performance to match his potential.

'It was important for Theo to produce a good performance,' said Wenger.

'You can score a goal and not play well sometimes, but, in my opinion, he had a very good performance and scored a great goal.

'That is good for us and good news for England.'