England forward Theo Walcott will miss this year’s World Cup in Brazil after being ruled out for at least six months with a knee injury, his club, Arsenal, said Monday.
Walcott suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee during Premier League leaders Arsenal’s 2-0 FA Cup win at home to arch north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
An Arsenal statement said Walcott is “expected to be out for at least six months, therefore missing the remainder of the (English) season and the World Cup in Brazil in the summer”.
The 24-year-old Walcott jarred his knee towards the end of the match making a tackle and was carried from the field.
Arsenal team-mate Aaron Ramsey sympathised with Walcott on Twitter by saying: “Gutted for Theo, he’ll come back stronger after this. Been fantastic for us so far this season. Have a speedy recovery mate.”
Former Arsenal and England midfielder Ray Parlour said Walcott would be a major loss for both club and country.
“What a really big injury this is for Arsenal and England because I’m sure Theo would have been a starter for England in Brazil,” Parlour told Sky Sports News.
“And it must be a massive blow for himself because he’s playing in a very good team at the moment, top of the league, and looking forward to Brazil.
“He must be absolutely distraught about the extent of the injury.”
Whilst on a stretcher, Walcott was pelted by coins and plastic bottles, among other objects, from the away end.
Earlier on Monday and before the extent of his injury was made public, the Football Association (FA), the English game’s governing body, said Walcott would not face disciplinary action for making a ‘2-0’ gesture from his stretcher that appeared to be aimed at Spurs fans.
“The FA has contacted both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to seek their observations in relation to objects being thrown from both a home and away section of the crowd at different times during Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie.
“The FA condemns any such acts and will liaise with both clubs and the Metropolitan Police to identify those responsible and support the strongest sanctions available, including life bans.
“Meanwhile, in relation to the same fixture, The FA has contacted Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and reminded him of his responsibilities regarding a ‘score-line’ gesture he made in front of away supporters during the game. The FA will not be taking any further disciplinary action.”
Walcott’s injury may mean Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has to buy a striker during the January transfer window following injuries to a number of forwards, with Olivier Giroud out with illness and Nicklas Bendtner expected to miss most of January with an ankle injury.
Walcott missed the final two World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland due to injury, with Tottenham’s Andros Townsend winning rave reviews after taking his place.
Former Southampton starlet Walcott has yet to play in a World Cup match despite his stunning selection by then England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson in 2006.
Four years later, he failed to make the squad chosen by Fabio Capello for the 2010 edition in South Africa.