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Arsenal must protect Walcott

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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).

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.