By Chris Harris
Cesc Fabregas is backing Theo Walcott to put his bad luck behind him and play a big part in Arsenal's quest for silverware.
The England star had managed just 54 minutes of competitive action this season before the weekend trip to Sunderland after suffering a back injury in the summer and then damaging knee ligaments in his first start of the campaign against Birmingham on October 17.
Walcott ended his latest lay-off with a substitute appearance at the Stadium of Light and could return to the first XI for the Champions League clash with Standard Liege. Indeed, Walcott is a candidate to fill a central role in Arsenal's attack with Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner out injured.
The 20-year-old believes that Walcott's hectic summer schedule - he represented England at senior and Under-21 level - may have hampered him. But Fabregas expects his team-mate to make a major contribution for Arsenal in the weeks and months to come.
"It has been really bad luck for him since the start of the season probably because of what happened in the summer," said Fabregas.
"He had a lot of games and it has happened to me many, many times. When you play a long tournament in the summer sometimes it is difficult to come back and it has been frustrating for him.
"Maybe [he has been burned out]. He is still very young. When you hear his name it is like he has been playing for a long time but he's still only 20. When you make him play so many games at that age... I've done that before myself and it is difficult and sometimes you get those kinds of injuries.
"Now the most important thing is that he is fit, back, and now he can help us. He looks really good in training and he's very sharp. As soon as he starts getting games and minutes I'm sure he'll play a big part in our season because he's a really important guy for us."