• International football

Barnes: Keep Walcott out wide

ESPN staff
February 6, 2013
Theo Walcott should continue running at defenders from out wide, says John Barnes © Getty Images

Former England winger John Barnes has questioned Theo Walcott's eagerness to transform himself into a central striker for club and country, as he suggests the Arsenal flier would be more effective in the wide role he has filled throughout his career.

Walcott has shown signs of promise in a central hit-man role after being handed his chance to play as goal scorer in chief in Arsene Wenger's Arsenal side, but Barnes is unconvinced the 23-year-old has what it takes to form a scoring partnership with Wayne Rooney at international level.

"I don't understand this whole idea of Theo Walcott playing up front," Barnes told talkSPORT. "Theo has been scoring goals from a wide position, so I don't understand this idea of him wanting to play up front.

"Let him come in from wide areas and he will score goals. Frank Lampard, and David Platt before him, got goals regularly but they didn't say, 'because we score, we want to play up front'.

"Theo has to understand that his best position is coming in from the wide areas, where he can still score his goals. Let him come in from wide areas and he will score goals."

Barnes believes the new-look England line-up has the potential to cause a few surprises at the World Cup finals in the summer of 2014, but he suggests there are plenty of unanswered questions surrounding some of the more promising performers in Hodgson's new-look squad.

"Roy recognises that he has to re-evaluate his squad as a lot of the senior players have gone and he has had to try a lot of players," he added. "There are some good players in the under-21 side as well, so it looks like he will have a big pool of talent to choose from."

"This England team has got great potential and the good thing is we have got some time to blood the new players like Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and now they have to realise that potential. We saw England trying to use inexperienced players at the European championships last summer and it didn't really work. They need time to develop."

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