Arsene Wenger warns Theo Walcott that contract situation could affect winger's role in Arsenal team
Arsene Wenger admits there could come a time when Theo Walcott's contract situation may impact on his role within the Arsenal team.
Walcott, 23, is into the final season of his current deal, and as yet negotiations over an extension remain unresolved.
There had been suggestions the England forward - who could potentially sign a lucrative pre-contract agreement with another club in January - would be sold in the last transfer window to avoid him moving as a free agent next summer, which Wenger refuted.
However, the Arsenal manager does maintain should the situation drag on, then he could reconsider how best to utilise the player he signed when only 16 under a media frenzy.
"It can (change selection policy), but at the moment I still hope to extend his contract so at the moment, it doesn't affect me. Of course at some stage...," said Wenger, whose side kick off their Champions League campaign in Montpellier tonight.
"If in April it (the contract) is not done, you can think it will be difficult to do."
Walcott has not started a match since the opening day against Sunderland - and received a mixed reception from some sections of the Emirates Stadium crowd when coming on against former club Southampton on Saturday, scoring the final goal in the 6-1 victory.
Wenger, though, feels Walcott will be able to handle the boo-boys.
"You want your players to be supported no matter what kind if contractual situation they are in," the Gunners boss said.
"I hope it will not affect him and that it will not affect our fans."
Wenger continued: "Theo has gone through a lot at 23 years of age.
"A lot of positives, a lot of negatives and he is level-headed.
"We are lucky: I don't know what they do at Southampton, but they bring players out, (Alex Oxlade) Chamberlain and him, with their feet on the ground."
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