By Declan Taylor

Arsène Wenger does not expect Theo Walcott to report for international duty next week because of his ongoing back problem.

The rapid winger did not feature during the Gunners’ pre-season campaign until he completed 45 minutes against Valencia on August 8.

That outing was enough to earn Walcott a call-up to Fabio Capello’s squad for England’s clash with Holland three days later. However, the back injury put paid to any involvement against the Dutch.

The 20-year-old has now missed his side’s first three games of the new season and will not face Celtic or Manchester United this week.

Because of this obvious lack of match-time, Wenger can see no reason for Capello to risk him against Slovenia or Croatia.

“England? No,” he said at Tuesday’s press conference. “There is no way.

“I can't see a player who has played one half since May going in to vital games for England. It would not be realistic.

“There is still an inflammation of his back. The scan was fine; he has no hernia but he has pain. He is out of the Manchester United game.

“If he doesn't play against United how can he play for England? His last game was in June. We are now in August. We wait until he has no pain.”

Wenger also rejected claims that the midfielder’s injury has become a “mystery” but he did admit that the problem might be related to Walcott’s recent shoulder operation.

“It’s not a mystery because he hurt his back with the wrong movement in Valencia,” said the manager.

“It’s difficult to say, he had surgery on both shoulders, his shoulders are less flexible, I don’t know. He’s injured and nobody can tell you where that injury comes from.”

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26 Aug 2009