Although a media storm has ensued following the news that Theo Walcott has been excluded from the England World Cup football squad, few among the British public believe that manager Fabio Capello was wrong to drop the Arsenal striker, a recent survey on behalf of the Sun newspaper has shown.
Despite being the most high profile player to be left out of the squad, only 18% of the British public think Capello was wrong to drop Walcott, with 25% believing that he made the right decision and 56% saying that they ‘don’t know’. And among football fans, the picture is not much different – 29% think Capello was wrong compared to 44% who support his decision.
Walcott was a shock inclusion in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England World Cup squad in 2006 at the age of only 17, but he did not go on to play in that tournament. However, this week, as Capello’s squad flew out to South Africa for the summer’s World Cup, Walcott was left at home.
Although Walcott became a hero when he scored a crucial hat-trick in England’s World Cup qualifying win against Croatia, it seems that he is not as popular among football fans as some may think. When asked to choose which strikers they would include in the 23-man squad, those ‘very interested in the World Cup’ put Walcott last with only 38% saying they would take him to South Africa. This puts him well behind the other five England strikers with Wayne Rooney receiving 90% (making him the most popular player overall), followed by Peter Crouch at 85%, Jermain Defoe at 81%, Darren Bent at 56% and Emile Heskey at 44%.