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Arsenal must protect Walcott



The last two under-20 promising England strikers to hit the headlines ended up leading the front line for club and country at a very young age – not the ideal circumstances to groom a young player into an established superstar.

Michael Owen at 1998, Rooney at Euro 2004 – both players ended up having their countries’ hopes resting on their shoulders every time they walked out on a football pitch. Both players were also asked to be the front-line strikers for their teams at a time when they weren’t prepared for the responsibility and the changes it would bring to their game.

There’s a lot of hype and a lot of counter-hype after yesterday’s win against Croatia – but like it or not, the press are going to talk about Walcott for every England game and bit by bit the pressure is going to be built up to a point where fans start ‘expecting’.

And when that happens, Arsenal will need to make sure Walcott keeps developing at a natural pace and isn’t forced to make drastic changes to his game to suit the ‘greater good’.

Walcott’s a good kid, let’s hope he can establish himself as a regular starter for Arsenal and England on the right-flank by the time Euro 2012 comes along – but for now, maybe it’s too early to push into the spotlight for every game (he’s definitely going to South Africa though).