Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has seemingly ruled out the sale of Theo Walcott when the transfer window reopens in the New Year. The England international has been sparingly used during the current campaign, but Wenger attributed the attacker’s recent absence to a sickness bug.

Speaking to reporters, he said: “He works hard to come back – he had a sickness a few weeks ago – and after I didn’t change the squad. In training he looks sharp and he will show that.” Meanwhile, when stressed whether the 28-year-old would remain at the Emirates beyond January, he simply replied: “yes”.

Walcott has been on the fringes of the Gunners first-team since the switch to the 3-4-2-1 formation in April, and he is still searching for his first Premier League start of the campaign. The former Southampton graduate has still been of importance to Arsenal in the Cup competitions, where he has contributed to their success.

Despite Wenger’s dismissing the attacker’s exit, speculation continues to revolve around the Englishman, who has been linked with moves to the likes of West Ham United and Everton – the latter of whom are managed by former England coach Sam Allardyce.

Allardyce picked Walcott in only Three Lions selection earlier last year, and they could be a potential reunion on the cards, although Wenger’s remains reluctant to sell. Walcott has just 18 months left on his existing deal at the Emirates, and he could be off the club’s books in the summer, should his position not improve at the north London club.

With the festive period having kicked in, Walcott could get a run in the Premier League line-up, although he still faces competition from Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi, both of whom are ahead of him in the pecking order. Walcott has notched 108 goals for the Gunners in nearly 400 appearances in all competitions.