Arsene Wenger admits there could come a time when Theo Walcott's contract situation may impact on his role within the Arsenal team.
Walcott, 23, is into the final season of his current deal, and as yet negotiations over an extension remain unresolved.
There had been suggestions the England forward - who could potentially sign a lucrative pre-contract agreement with another club in January - would be sold in the last transfer window to avoid him moving as a free agent next summer, which Wenger refuted.
However, the Arsenal manager does maintain should the situation drag on, then he could reconsider how best to utilise the player he signed when only 16 under a media frenzy.
"It can (change selection policy), but at the moment I still hope to extend his contract so at the moment, it doesn't affect me. Of course at some stage...," said Wenger, whose side kick off their Champions League campaign in Montpellier tonight.
"If in April it (the contract) is not done, you can think it will be difficult to do."
Walcott has not started a match since the opening day against Sunderland - and received a mixed reception from some sections of the Emirates Stadium crowd when coming on against former club Southampton on Saturday, scoring the final goal in the 6-1 victory.
Wenger, though, feels Walcott will be able to handle the boo-boys.
"You want your players to be supported no matter what kind if contractual situation they are in," the Gunners boss said.
"I hope it will not affect him and that it will not affect our fans."
Wenger continued: "Theo has gone through a lot at 23 years of age.
"A lot of positives, a lot of negatives and he is level-headed.
"We are lucky: I don't know what they do at Southampton, but they bring players out, (Alex Oxlade) Chamberlain and him, with their feet on the ground."
Irish Examiner live news app for smartphones lets you quickly access breaking news, sport, business, entertainment and weather.
Irish Examiner ePaper app gives you the entire newspaper delivered to your phone or tablet for as little as 55c a day.
PREMIER LEAGUE:Southampton v Man CityManchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has reiterated how highly he rates Sergio Aguero, emphasising that he regards the Argentina international as a better all-round player than Luis Suarez.
South Africans united in mourning for Nelson Mandela yesterday, but while some celebrated his remarkable life with dance and song, others fretted that the anti-apartheid hero's death would make the nation vulnerable again to racial and social tensions.
HEINEKEN CUP POOL SIX:Munster v PerpignanMunster will go in to their must-win Heineken Cup clash with Pool 1 leaders Perpignan tomorrow intending to meet fire with fire against a powerful French Top 14 side at Thomond Park.
The grandmother of a toddler with Down's syndrome has been waiting a year for a response from the Taoiseach and three government ministers to correspondence about disability cuts referred to them on her behalf by the troika.