LONDON (REUTERS) - Premier League leaders Arsenal have received a boost with the inclusion of Theo Walcott in the squad for tomorrow's match at home against his old club Southampton while Lukas Podolski's return is less than a month away.
Manager Arsene Wenger has hailed the availability of England international Walcott, whom he signed as a 16-year-old in 2006, after the forward's season was interrupted by an abdominal operation in September.
"Strikers who get behind the defenders have a very important quality and Theo has that quality," Wenger was quoted as saying on Arsenal's official website ahead of the league leaders' clash with the third-placed Saints.
"Of course, you miss a player like Theo Walcott. Theo had a good start to the season, he scored goals, he provided chances and had assists. He can always give you a different option in the game and that is of course vital."
Wenger said that although the pacy forward had now fully recovered from surgery, his lack of match fitness meant he would be used cautiously against Southampton who are only three points behind Arsenal after a superb start to the season.
"He has not played for a long time, of course, he has not played even a reserve team game, but I will put him in the squad on Saturday," he added.