Arsene Wenger has cautioned Arsenal and England fans that they will have to wait until the new year to see the best of Theo Walcott.
The 25-year-old is in line to make his first start since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury on January 4 when the Gunners travel to Swansea tomorrow.
Walcott made his comeback from the bench in last weekend’s win over Burnley and has been included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the European Championship qualifier against Slovenia and the friendly in Scotland.
Although Wenger said he was pleased that Walcott was linking up with the national team in the hope of him getting more competitive minutes, the Arsenal boss believes the former Southampton youngster is still some way from being back to his peak.
“It takes two months,” he said when asked how long it will take Walcott to get back to his best.
“Once you’re back in full training, you count two months. People think you’re back and you play but it’s not like that. Ten months is a long time in top-level football.
“(You lose) the sharpness, the speed. At the top level, it’s a fraction of a second that makes the decisions. And to find the confidence to get away from people.
“You need to go back into contact. He will go with England and get what he needs to. He will get competitive training every day and get back into games. ”
With Walcott on the mend, Wenger’s injury concerns can now turn to defender Laurent Koscielny, who remains sidelined with an Achilles problem.
The France international has been missing since the 2-0 defeat at Chelsea on October 5 and Wenger is unsure when he will be back in contention.
Meanwhile, Swansea expect star striker Wilfried Bony to extend his contract until 2018 — and manager Garry Monk hopes it could even be done before Arsenal’s visit.
Bony revealed on Thursday that he is close to signing a one-year extension on his current deal at the Liberty Stadium and that would be a huge boost for a Swansea side who lie sixth in the league.
“Hopefully it will be agreed before the weekend and done before the game,” Monk said.
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