Arsenal star Walcott upset by England U21 axe

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott was taken aback after being dropped from the starting XI for England U21's superb 2-0 Euros victory over Spain yesterday.

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott was taken aback after being dropped from the starting XI for England U21's superb 2-0 Euros victory over Spain yesterday.

The Guardian says coach Stuart Pearce said that Walcott discovered he had been left out when he pinned up the teamsheet at the morning squad meeting. The decision represented both a gamble and a bold political move, given the controversy that had accompanied Pearce's taking of Walcott to the tournament.

Walcott was understood to be stunned at the decision to drop him to the bench. Although he played poorly in England's opening fixture at this championship – the 2-1 win over Finland – and was withdrawn at half-time, he felt he was certain to enjoy Pearce's backing, particularly in light of the support that he had shown to Pearce. Walcott had gone against Wenger's wishes to declare his commitment and availability to the Under-21s.

"I don't agree that it was a big call [to drop Walcott]," said Pearce, who was congratulated over the phone by Capello for the victory. "People get in the team and out of the team on merit. That happened this time. I have to treat everybody the same, otherwise it wouldn't be fair. What are we saying, that if at any given time one player loses his form ... if it's James ­Milner or Theo Walcott, who have been with the seniors ... that they are immune from coming off the pitch?

"Theo was disappointed but he reacted like the strong man he is. He put a performance on, not only going forward but tackling back and running back and ­helping the full-back. Maybe that's a part of his game that he has to work on."

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