Pallister not surprised by Theo axing

Former Manchester United and England centre-back Gary Pallister said he is "not surprised" Arsenal forward Theo Walcott was left out of Fabio Capello’s England squad for the upcoming World Cup.

Walcott was the noteworthy omission from the final 23-man squad following indifferent showings in the warm-up matches against Mexico and Japan.

The 21-year-old Gunners starlet spent large periods of last season out of action with a shoulder injury, and Capello explained he didn’t feel the Arsenal man looked the same player on his return.

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Speaking exclusively to, Pallister explained that while he would personally have selected Walcott, he can also understand the Italian’s decision, reasoning that he hasn’t maintained the form that had made him an automatic first-choice after the qualifying round hat-trick against Croatia in September 2008.

"I think in the friendly games he showed little pockets of what he can do but he looks like a player who hasn’t played a lot of football," Pallister said

"We talk a lot about his final ball - we know he’s got the pace to scare the hell out of defenders, but he hasn’t been in the form he was 18 months ago when he scored the hat-tricks and looked a shoe-in for the team."

The Old Trafford legend also argued that Walcott is a "confidence player" capable of "lighting up arenas," but there are times that "you can see that he is struggling."

Walcott has failed find his form on a regular basis at Emirates Stadium over the past season, scoring just two four goals for the Gunners in 30 matches in all competitions, providing a further three assists.

But Pallister, who won 22 caps for England, did offer some words of encouragement to the youngster, pointing to club manager Arsene Wenger as the man to help improve his fortunes, both at Arsenal and at international level.

"He could well still feature in another three World Cups, so he has got to take the positives and go back and work with a fantastic manager in Arsene Wenger and hopefully we’ll see him come back stronger and better with England as well." caught up with Gary Pallister at an Xbox LIVE Game with Fame, where they played the official video game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa against members of the Xbox LIVE community to celebrate the launch of the game and support the charity 1Goal.

Pallister, who won four Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford, said of his gaming habits: “Even at this age I’m still into my Xbox and I’m still playing the games, much to the amusement of my family, especially my children. If I get beaten, I have to play again and again until I win!"

By Mark Booth

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