Walcott contract talks delayed as Wilshere faces lengthy lay-off
Published 27/09/2011 | 05:00
Arsenal are yet to open talks with Theo Walcott over a potential contract extension beyond 2013, with the club focused on stabilising results ahead of a pivotal round of negotiations with key players.
With Arsenal's season delicately poised, it has also emerged that Jack Wilshere could be out until February after undergoing successful surgery yesterday on the stress fracture to his right ankle.
Wilshere has previously indicated that he hoped to be playing again before the new year, but a club statement has estimated his return at "four to five months". It said that Wilshere would undergo "a prolonged period of rehabilitation".
Wilshere used Twitter to update fans on an operation that required two surgeons.
"Had my operation and all went well," he wrote. "I am feeling good. Will spend the night in hospital to monitor me but apart from that I am happy. Lying in my hospital bed recovering. Still a bit drowsy so awake one minute asleep the next. All your messages are so humbling."
Wilshere sustained the initial injury in England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland in June and suffered a setback during the Emirates Cup tournament at the end of July.
As well as forcing him to miss most of Arsenal's season, the injury is a blow to England. He is ruled out of the final Euro 2012 group qualifier against Montenegro next month, when England need a draw to qualify, and any potential two-legged play-off.
Wilshere's absence has contributed to Arsenal's poor start to the season and the club now want to concentrate on building on Saturday's 3-0 win against Bolton Wanderers ahead of crucial contract negotiations.
Robin van Persie, the Arsenal captain, is their highest-profile player with less than two years left on his contract and, after his admission that he "cannot look into the future", the focus is turning to other players in a similar position.
"Maybe I'll leave it (holding immediate talks) because the main thing for me is the team and that we play well," Van Persie said. "I do believe you have to look for a right moment to sit down and speak about your own stuff.
"It's not only about me, it's about the team. We are not talking now because we are so busy -- we have games every three or four days. I don't think it's clever to do that during the season.
"I still have almost two years left here, so for the moment that's fine. But I don't know, we will have to look. I'm happy with my contract, I'm good. That's how it is, I can't say much more. I can't look into the future."
Walcott, Thomas Vermaelen and Andrei Arshavin are also out of contract in 2013. The Gunners' start to the season was destabilised by the summer departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
While Fabregas had made it clear that he wanted to return to Barcelona, the departure of Nasri was forced on Arsenal because he had only one year left on his contract and could have left for nothing next summer.
Avoiding that same scenario with Van Persie, Walcott and Vermaelen is clearly, therefore, a priority for Arsenal during this current season.
However, as yet there has been no attempt to begin talks with Walcott over a new deal. In reality, Arsenal's position in forthcoming contract negotiations is likely to depend heavily on the club's immediate progress. (© Daily Telegraph, London)