By Nick Teale

Theo Walcott's recent performances are not a concern for Arsène Wenger, who says the striker needs time to return to full fitness.

The former Southampton man has suffered injuries to his back, knee, hamstring and most recently his rib this season but returned to action as a second-half substitute in the 4-2 home win over Bolton earlier this month.

That succession of injury problems has restricted Walcott to just five first-team starts this season, and the 20-year-old's performance came in for criticism after the recent FA Cup defeat to Stoke City.

However, Wenger has defended the striker, saying he needs time to find his form.

"I am not worried about Walcott," said the manager. "What you cannot expect from Walcott at the moment is what he cannot give you.

"He needs some time to play and come back to full fitness. He has only played a few games this season.

"If he gets injury free now, he will have a good end of season. But at the moment he is not completely himself."

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4 Feb 2010