West Ham legend compares Walcott to Henry
PUBLISHED: 07:34 30 January 2013 | UPDATED: 07:34 30 January 2013
Sir Trevor Brooking can see a little bit of Thierry Henry in Theo Walcott.
Although Arsenal are not having the best of seasons, Walcott’s reputation is rising, with the 23-year-old scoring 17 goals for the Gunners and signing a new three-and-a-half-year contract after it seemed for a long time that he might be leaving the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Although he has not been a permanent fixture in attack, Walcott has revelled in the advance role when he has been given it by manager Arsene Wenger, just as the former Southampton man always thought would happen.
And, with England boss Roy Hodgson due to name his squad on Thursday for next week’s friendly with Brazil at Wembley, Brooking can see similarities between Walcott and a familiar figure from Arsenal’s glory days.
“Theo is a little bit Henry-like on the right there when he opens up and picks his spot,” the FA’s head of football development told TalkSPORT.
“He is starting to be pretty composed in his finishing too. He is picking his spot and tucking it away.”
In an era when England are short of world-class forwards, Walcott offers an extra dimension, although Brooking does not believe he has yet worked out the best way of utilising his pace.
“Theo has played through the middle once or twice and is starting to learn,” Brooking added. “He’s got such electric pace that he sometimes has a problem where he goes too early and gets caught offside.
“He needs to play in that role to realise how to make those sort of runs, because even if he’s a yard or two behind, he’ll take out those yards in the first five anyway because he’s got such acceleration.”
With Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe available, Hodgson does have options for the Brazil game, by which time Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck might have been crowned 2012 England player of the year.
It seems a remarkable prospect given Welbeck has scored just once for United this season.
However, he was England’s top scorer with five goals during 2012 and Brooking is delighted with the progress Welbeck has made.
“I am particularly chuffed to see Danny come through,” he said. “I have been with the FA nine years now and I have seen him come through the system.
“Danny can play as the top man. He can play in the hole or one of the wide positions. We just want him to add those goals because, in that position in international football, you have got to be able to score goals.
“We haven’t had the depth of choice in recent years but he is starting to get the cutting edge.”