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England U-21

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2009 at 16:31


England’s future stars have had a terrific performance thus far in the European Championships and are deservedly favourites to see off free-scoring Sweden.

England’s squad is strong and well-prepared and no player has hit the net more than once. However, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott has proved to be a pivotal member of the team during his time on the pitch. He was taken off at half-time in England’s opening match against Finland, was brought on after 60 minutes against Spain, and was introduced at a similar time in the 1-1 draw with Germany.

Despite being pretty quiet against Finland, Walcott was instrumental in setting up James Milner for England’s second goal against Spain. Perhaps manager Stuart Pearce is using Walcott sparingly during the group games to save the lad’s energy for the latter rounds of the tournament. Walcott was used by Fabio Capello in the senior’s games against Kazakhstan (45 minutes) and Andorra (90 minutes), and without getting a break of any significance, Walcott will be heading back to pre-season training with Arsenal very soon.

However, in recent interviews, Walcott has underlined his commitment to the international cause, no matter what England team calls him up, and the 20-year-old’s determination has never been questioned. Dropping down from competitive senior action to under-21 level must seem like taking candy from a baby for baby-faced Walcott. Providing he plays at least 45 minutes of the Sweden game, Walcott’s pace, strength and bravery should provide the ultimate reward.

Walcott is as short as 7/4 (with Ladbrokes) to get on the score sheet at any stage of the game, but Paddy Power are currently offering odds of 3/1. With Walcott eager to prove to everyone (especially Arsene Wenger) that he was correct to play all of these international games during his summer vacation, he will be more determined than ever to get a result.

Even though Pearce’s team selections are as unpredictable as Rafa Benitez’s, he will play his strongest line-up in Friday’s game, and that will surely include Walcott. However, perhaps waiting to see his name on the team sheet is advisable.

Theo Walcott     To score at anytime        3/1 (Paddy Power)

England U21       11/10 (general) Draw     9/4 (general)      Sweden U21      2/1 (general)