Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott | Arsenal & England Wonderkid

Walcott in danger of missing out

Arsenal striker Theo Walcott is in danger of missing the summer tournament this year as his name might be omitted when Head Coach Roy Hodgson names his provisional 23-man squad on Thursday, May 12th.

Officially, Hodgson doesn’t have to open his hand on his players’ list until May 31st but he has opted to name the players in advance to try to curb some of the hype and hyperbole attached with the naming, and also give his players longer to work together. In case any of the 23 gets injured, he is also set to name six standby players.

Competition for places in the English team for the final squad has intensified this year and as the Premier League season nears its end, the guessing game of who will be in and who will miss out grows ever more popular. This season, which has brought a lot of surprises, might be set for more as unlikely stars have staked their claims for selection while more established players have been distinctly unimpressive.

It would be a sad day for Walcott, who progressed through the ranks from Under-16 to Under-17 to Under-21 before joining the national team squad in 2006, if he doesn't feature in the Euros this year.

Whilst the 27-year old right winger has understandably been overtaken by Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, who have both been in outstanding form, he could do with putting in a few good performances as the season climaxes in order to fend off other challengers.

Daniel Sturridge has been in great form recently and if Danny Welbeck manages to get fit again there would likely be no room for the Arsenal star. He stood a far better chance of playing about a year ago but with 5 goals from 28 premier league goals this season, coming mostly from the bench as he dropped in the pecking order at the Gunners, the future looks bleak for the player both for club and country.

Wayne Rooney is also in the picture, and as a key figure in the team, he is believed to be set to be named. There have been calls even, in some quarters for Manchester United youngster, Marcus Rashford’s inclusion after a stunning debut season, if not for any game-time, then for the experience, which is something Walcott could relate to after being named as a surprise inclusion back in Germany 2006.

It would be a real shame if Theo misses out, as this year the England team are widely believed to be among the main contenders for the Euro 2016 trophy.

The team’s qualifying campaign was a straightforward one where the Three Lions advanced to the Finals with a 100% record. They scored 31 times and only conceded three in a group qualifying campaign containing Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino, Slovenia and Switzerland.

The qualifying campaign began a very difficult fixture in an away game against Switzerland. After a poor showing at the World Cup in Brazil, England knew that they had to hit the ground running in order to clear the pessimism that was surrounding the squad. They played a home again next which was followed up with a resounding 5-0 home win against minnows San Marino. They were grateful to Wayne Rooney who sent a perfect free kick into the net when they played against Estonia next, whilst the team ended 2014 with their fourth win from four games with a 3-1 win against Slovenia.

Five months later, England played and won their fifth consecutive win in Group E, easing past Lithuania at Wembley with a 4-0 win. It was in this match that current Premier League top goal scorer (with 25 goals) Harry Kane made his debut, and his first stab at netting a first-team spot for good.

The team went on to defeat Slovenia 3-2, before a big win at San Marino where Rooney went on to break the records with his 50th goal. The team achieved a 100 percent record, which is something that is actually quite unusual in qualifying and has only been matched by a few in recent years - France (Euro '92 qualifying), Czech Republic (Euro 2000), France (Euro 2004), Germany and Spain (Euro 2012).

With very talented and experienced English players such as Joe Hart, left backs in Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand, right backs in Nathaniel Clyne and Kyle Walker, England's defence seems unstoppable. With strong midfielders in Milner, Sterling, Dele Alli, Lallana and others, they look dangerous even before considering the several powerful attacking options all competing for space.

With the quality at their disposal, especially in the attacking department, England should qualify easily from this Group B, where they have been drawn alongside Russia, Wales and Slovakia. Should they qualify, they will face the best third-placed side from Group A, C or D, which could set up another all-British affair (after the England-Wales match) with Northern Ireland being potential opponents in Paris on June 25.

Hopefully Theo's pace, proven goalscoring record and experience will enable him to grab a place in the squad, if not the first-team.