By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger believes that Theo Walcott's club form will determine whether he plays a leading role at next summer's World Cup.
The England man is back in the Arsenal squad for Sunday's game against Blackburn after missing the first six weeks of the season with a back problem.
This time last year Walcott had just announced himself on the international scene with a stunning hat-trick in the World Cup qualifier in Croatia. His reputation soared overnight and he was first-choice for club and country until a shoulder injury stopped him in his tracks.
Wenger is delighted to have the 20-year-old back and believes that further England recognition will follow - if Walcott does the business for Arsenal.
"It is a big season for him as he wants to win," said Wenger. "I believe that he is not considered any more like a youth player, he is considered a senior player.
"Of course the expectation level for him is very high because he plays for England. But for me the most important thing is playing well for your club, as the national team is a consequence of the quality of your performances with your club.
"I believe it is very simple - great players make their clubs win. So of course it's important [he has a good season]."
Walcott faces competition for his place at Arsenal with so many forwards vying for one of the three starting berths in Wenger's new 4-3-3 formation. And the same applies with England as Aaron Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips try to catch the eye of coach Fabio Capello.
Wenger believes Walcott can re-establish himself as the No 1 pick in both sides.
"Yes he has the potential to do it, that's why we extended his contract," said the manager.
"But you must take this kind of competition as a possibility to become better and not be in a comfort zone. On that flank there is a lot of competition."