What Theo Walcott said about Tottenham defender rings true about his own Southampton situation
Out of favour Southampton winger Theo Walcott has spoken of the need to keep training hard when waiting for an opportunity to impress.
Walcott, 33, has only featured in a total of nine Premier League matches this season either from the start or from the bench, while he has also made three appearances in the domestic cups this term for the Saints. He has had injuries and has had to accept a bit-part role back at the club where it all started for him, coupled with his role as an experienced player helping the younger stars that Nathan Tella praised earlier this season.
“There’s no doubt that experienced players have their role to play in the club. I think it’s important for them to know that when they can see the end of the road, then you have a different role to play,” said Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl back in February 2022.“It means sometimes that you are the guy who supports from the bench, or even if you’re not on the bench, show how professional you are.
READ MORE: Liam Delap Southampton interest explained amid Newcastle United and West Ham transfer plans
“This is a way that shows your character and how settled you are as an experienced player who has won everything or had a lot of success in your time. There comes for everyone the moment to step a little bit back and be a different person in the way you are developing the young lads as a player. In the end, it’s up to me to decide what I need and what players I want to give a chance.
“The only thing is, that in a 50-50 situation you often choose the younger one because you know he is on the way up and the other one is on the way down. You think, ‘OK, I want to help him more than the other one’. But there are some moments when you need this experience and that’s the reason why we have this player in our team.”
The winger’s last minutes at St Mary’s for Southampton came in the FA Cup win all the way back in February against Coventry City, with Walcott then featuring late on as a substitute against Tottenham a few days later as Saints won 3-2 in the Premier League. But he has not featured since then for Southampton.
One player who can relate though is Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez, who has fallen down in the pecking order in north London behind first-team regulars Cristian Romero and Eric Dier. The Colombian did grasp at his opportunity on Thursday night in Tottenham’s 3-0 rampant North London derby defeat over Arsenal – something Walcott didn’t predict while he also referenced his own mentality at Southampton when offered rare chances to start out of the blue.
“As a player, even when you are not playing you are training, and training hard. When you get your opportunity, you have to take it, but he has not played for a while,” he admitted to Sky Sports. “That could be an issue and when you have someone as in form as Eddie (Nketiah) and the other guys as well, they would love to play against him right now.”
Walcott’s current deal runs out in June 2023 meaning he has one year left to run on his contract at St Marys. Whether or not Hasenhuttl keeps him around for one more season remains to be seen but the possibility of a summer exit could be considered for both parties, with Southampton potentially looking to free up some space on the wage bill. The Saints academy graduate may want to look for a fresh opportunity himself to try and earn some more regular first-team football elsewhere within the league or even potentially the Championship where he’d be a guaranteed starter for most sides in the second tier.