Boss's Walcott worry
By Chris Stanton
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
George Burley claims Theo Walcott could live to regret his big-money move to Arsenal.
Southampton manager George Burley claims Theo Walcott could live to regret his big-money move to Arsenal.
The 17-year-old quit The Saints in a £12.5 million transfer last January, but has yet to play a first team match for The Gunners.
And Burley, who assumed the St Mary's reins midway through last season, believes the career of the surprise call-up to England's World Cup squad would have been better served had he remained on the South Coast.
"Career-wise, it was the wrong choice for Theo to leave," said former Ipswich boss Burley.
"I think he's played one-and-a-half reserve games since he left in January. That's no good.
"If I were his parents I would have let him stay at Southampton, let him mature like Darren Bent and Kieron Dyer at Ipswich and then let him move along."
Burley has also been critical of Walcott's inclusion in Sven Goran Eriksson's squad this summer, with the Scot suggesting it has placed unrealistic expectations on the young player's shoulders.
"I don't think the World Cup did him any good," added Burley.
"Managers choose what they think is right but players have to earn the right to get into the team.
"I feel for the boy a little bit because I think it was undue pressure he was under and I hope he kicks on."
Burley is concerned Walcott's career path may now take a downward turn - in a similar fashion to the one that has stalled the career of his former charge at Portman Road, goalkeeper Richard Wright.
"I remember telling Richard before he moved to Arsenal that he needed another season to progress at Ipswich," he added.
"He went and nobody has heard of him for the last five years.
"If you move too early to a big club then it can be detrimental to your career."