Arsène Wenger has total faith that Theo Walcott will live up to his huge potential.

On Sunday it will be two years to the day since the winger arrived at Arsenal in a blaze of publicity. That only increased when he was chosen for England's World Cup squad the following summer without having played for his new side.

Wenger admits that the 18-year-old is not yet 'there' but he is sure it will happen.

"He will get where I expect him to be," said the Arsenal manager at his pre-match press conference. "At the moment he is not.

"But I'm not worried personally. He plays on confidence and he has qualities that will come out.

"I tried to force him to play wide but today I am convinced he will be a central player. I think that is where he will be happiest because he is direct, he has good timing for his runs and I believe he will do well.
"The shoulder injury [last season] affected him because he got into bad habits. Now he's back, he's had the problem on the other side but it's not a long term problem.

"There is always a risk when you move up but I still think that the sooner you are at the top, top level the better it is. He will get a chance up front but he is not in the squad for Fulham because we play again on Tuesday.

"He is happy," Wenger concluded. "He is not happy when he does not play and you don't expect him to be but I believe he is on the way to getting into the team and I am confident that he can make that step."

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18 Jan 2008