The news that Theo Walcott would miss the rest of the season, including the World Cup was a devastating blow to club and country. Despite only just returning from injury, the Arsenal winger showed signs of promise, scoring six and creating four goals in 15 appearances.
He was heavily expected to be the man to help carry the mantel for both Arsenal and England in their search ofr glory this year. But as it stands, the weight of expectation falls at the feet of other players wanting to make an impression on England manager Roy Hodgson.
The two main candidates for the newly opened position are expected to be Arsenal starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tottenham star Andros Townsend.
The Tottenham winger is the most likely for the position having impressed on the international stage for Roy Hodgson recently, winning the praise of the supporters too. However, despite Townsend's explosive burst onto the scene at International level, doubts have been cast over his form at club level. In the Premier League this season, Townsend has struggled to make a real impact for Tottenham, scoring only one goal and creating none but that's not to say he hasn't tried.
He has struck 46 shots in 14 matches, the sixth highest shot rate in the Premier League, leaving him with by far the worst conversion rate in the whole division. He may be easy to label as wasteful, but no one can argue on the International stage of late, he has been one of England's top performers.
Another likely candidate for Walcott's position in the England side is the player who could replace him at Arsenal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Despite mainly being used as a substitute in the England ranks, it could be time for the 20-year-old to step up and become a starter for Roy Hodgson going into the World Cup. He only managed 45 minutes of Premier League football this season, before being ruled out through injury. Impressively, despite only playing 45 minutes, he has claimed more assists this season than his competitor Andros Townsend. And with a big second half of the season left for Arsenal, if the Ox can make an impression then I fully expect him to be in the England starting 11 going into Brazil.
Although the focus may very well be on these two, there are other candidates that shouldn't be overlooked. For example, Rodriguez and Lallana at Southampton, Sterling at Liverpool and even Redmond at Norwich. So it's fair to say that Hodgson has a big decision leading into the the Summer's tournament and for me, should take the man that finishes the season the strongest.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald