Wenger: It’s the now or never stage in Arsenal star's career

Arsene Wenger feels striker Theo Walcott has reached a decisive moment in his career.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has told reporters of the Mirror that striker Theo Walcott has reached a decisive moment of his career as he endeavours to realise his world-class potential.

The England international joined the Gunners from Premier League rivals Southampton as an exciting youngster with scope to become one of the finest forwards in world football.

He arrived with immense pace, great ball control and excellent finishing ability – all of the attributes which served club legend Thierry Henry so well throughout a highly successful career.

However, it’s fair to say that it just hasn’t quite happened for Walcott, not yet at least.

The 25-year-old suffered knee ligament damage 13 months ago and spent the majority of 2014 on the sidelines nursing his injury, subsequently missing the World Cup and the Gunners’ FA Cup triumph.

It was such a cruel occurrence following Walcott’s impressive 2013 festive period form, though with age still on his side Wenger feels his striker can still fulfil his potential.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s North London derby, the Frenchman still has faith in Walcott, though he readily admits that he is now entering the most crucial stage of his career.

“He [Walcott] had a lot of injuries. I think what he needs is to be a long time without injury,” Wenger told reproters.

“He is 25 now, he was born 1989, and it’s the right age for him. It’s now that is decisive for his career, 25 to 30. You want him to be world class, it is all there.”

Despite not being completely match fit, Walcott has been among the goals since returning to action, scoring in consecutive matches against Brighton and Aston Villa.

He will be chomping at the bit for another start on Saturday as the Gunners take on North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur – Walcott’s opponents while suffering his injury - in a highly-anticipated encounter.

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