By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger might prefer Theo Walcott to have a long rest next summer but he would have no problem if the Arsenal winger represented his country at the European Under-21 Championships instead.

Walcott has played a key role in guiding England to the brink of next year's tournament but has since been promoted to the senior team, scoring a stunning hat-trick against Croatia in last month's World Cup qualifier in Zagreb.

The 19-year-old is expected to remain in Fabio Capello's squad for the forseeable future but the Under-21s manager, Stuart Pearce, would like to call on Walcott for this month's play-off against Wales and, if they qualify, next summer's showpiece.

At his pre-match press conference, Wenger pointed out that few players successfully return to Under-21 duty after establishing themselves in their full national sides. However, the Frenchman does not think it would harm Walcott's career.

"I would not be against it," said Wenger. "When they go from a top team to the Under-21s with all the examples I have seen it doesn't really work.

"I have seen it many times with young players and it has never worked very well. But I can understand that England wants to use him. He is 19 years-old and if he can contribute to the Under-21 team, why not?

"I had that in France with Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka when they were already in the top team and then went below. It is never conclusive.

"But Theo would be happy to do it and I would not stand in his way."

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2 Oct 2008