Theo Walcott is the big surprise in Eriksson's preliminary World Cup squad

Monday, May 8, 2006

17 year old Arsenal FC striker Theo Walcott is the biggest surprise in England national team coach Sven-Göran Eriksson's preliminary pick for the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany. Injured Wayne Rooney is also one of the players in the squad.

Theo Walcott hasn't yet played a Premier League game but Eriksson thinks that the team needs players with Walcott's pace. Eriksson decided this morning to pick Walcott ahead of players like Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe. When he named Walcott there were a lot of surprised journalists in the press conference room. "Sometimes you do it on feelings as well and I am excited about Theo Walcott," Eriksson said at the press conference.

He consulted his assistant coach Tord Grip and Arsenal FC coach Arsene Wenger when he picked Walcott. Wenger, who in January convinced the Arsenal FC directors to transfer Walcott from Southampton FC, is impressed of what he has seen of him.

Walcott's former mentor, Huw Jennings, agrees with Sven-Göran Eriksson. "He has got tremendous ability and pace, which England are short of," Jennings said in an interview with the BBC.

As expected, Wayne Rooney was picked despite his severe injury. Eriksson thinks he should be in the team as the world class player he is. If Rooney isn't expected to be fit enough to play in the tournament he can be replaced, but that has to be done before June 9.

Michael Owen is expected to train with the national team from Monday. Ledley King was not picked for the squad due to an injury and hasn't been able to train.

Tottenham Hotspur FC coach Martin Jol is amazed that Jermain Defoe is not in the squad but he still believes that he will be there, referring to the situation with Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen. Charlton striker Darren Bent says on his agents' website that he is disappointed to be overlooked.

The final squad must be announced by May 15.