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Walcott absence is nothing to do with contract standoff, insists Wenger

Arsene Wenger insists he is not freezing Theo Walcott out of the Arsenal side.

When called upon this season, the England international has been in impressive form for the Gunners. And with Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski still finding their way in English football, it is a source of frustration for the Emirates Stadium faithful that the 23-year-old forward has not started more than he has this far.

Many fans and pundits alike believe the reason for this is Walcott’s contract standoff, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season. Until he pens an extension, many feel Wenger will continue to mainly use him as an impact substitution, despite the struggles of the first team in recent weeks.

However, the French coach insists this is nothing to do with his decision not to start the former Southampton youngster more often. Instead, he claims the player has been suffering with an illness, and this is the only reason for his non-inclusion.

"I will make a decision on when I know how fit he feels, this is a digestive problem," said Wenger. "He has been sick and did not train, so we will see how he is. It is nothing linked to his contract at all, it's because I have played other players, simple as that. We started the season well, he was injured too. He played 40 minutes on Saturday, you can't say he's not played."

If Walcott doesn’t agree a new deal by the turn of the year, the general consensus is that he will be sold. A number of Premier League rivals, including Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, have already been linked with the forward, who has not started a league game for his current club since August.

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