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Walcott a special case - Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has stressed he always believed in Theo Walcott, but has admitted the attacker has not developed as initially expected when he rose to prominence.

Walcott was dealt a major blow when he was left out of England's squad for Euro 2016, but has impressed in the opening stages of the 2016-17 campaign, scoring three times in six Premier League outings.

"Theo is a special case; at 16 he went with England to the World Cup in 2006, now we are in 2016 and he has still not played at a World Cup," Wenger told the club's official website.

"It was a big blow for Walcott not to go to the Euros. I spoke with him about the disappointment of not going with England.

"He has matured and, when a player survives these disappointments after what you have promised at 16 and the way he dealt with the situations, I always thought there was something special in this guy.

"I always felt there was character in this boy and intelligence. Walcott used to be 90 per cent forward and 10 per cent defending - now he does it 50-50 and does the job in both ways with commitment."