Roy Hodgson named his 24-man squad for the Euro qualifier against Lithuania and the friendly against Italy. One of the players named was Theo Walcott, who plays for Arsenal. Walcott has struggled to play significant minutes this season due to injury, which makes his inclusion into the squad questionable. For many fans, there is already a debate of country vs. club, and call-ups of this sort merely encourage such divisions.
When healthy, Theo Walcott certainly deserves to be in the national team. In the 2013 -14 season, Walcott played a mere 859 minutes in the premier league for Arsenal, scoring 5 goals in that time. That's 171 minutes per goal, or stated differently, a goal every two games. Very impressive considering he was in and out of the line up due to injury before being ruled out for the season in January with a ligament tear in his knee. Walcott is, when healthy and in form, quite simply one of the best offensive wingers in the world.
However, while Theo is quite certainly a very good offensive threat, he is also very much injury-prone. As previously mentioned, Walcott missed out on most of the 2014 calendar year due to a knee problem. Walcott had been returning back to health when he had been called back in to join the national team for a pair of matches in November. Walcott did not play, but it appears he suffered some sort of set back. He did not appear again for Arsenal until the start of January. Walcott was also injured off-and-on at the end of 2013, as well as minor injuries in previous years. The point is, Walcott is fragile. The club supporters know this. Take a quick tour of The Short Fuse, SBNation's Arsenal blog, and you'll find frequent mentions of dissatisfaction with international play and the fear of player injuries. If Walcott's injured and still needs match fitness, what is he doing in the national team camp? Nobody expects him to play. Why is he traveling and training with the national team with players and coaches who are less familiar with him than those at his club? It quite simply does not make sense and I do not see how it is productive. Frankly, it's this sort of thoughtlessness that makes fans less enthusiastic about national team games. Club supporters, and I don't just mean Arsenal fans, are more worried about seeing their players get hurt than the national team, and can we really blame them with the FA and Hodgson's willingness to put players in risk?