Arsene Wenger warns contract-rebel Theo Walcott over his future with Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has expressed his irritation at Theo Walcott’s contract stand-off, warning the winger must commit his future to Arsenal as soon as possible.

The Frenchman has left Walcott out of his starting XI since he turned down a new £75,000-a-week deal at the Emirates and admitted the issue could become more pertinent if it is allowed to fester.

Walcott received a mixed reception when he was introduced as a substitute before scoring in Arsenal’s 6-1 win against Southampton on Saturday and Wenger conceded the fans’ reaction could also be problematic.

The 23-year-old is in the Arsenal squad to face Montpellier in their first Champions League Group B game on Tuesday, but Wenger was non-committal on whether Walcott has done enough to earn a starting place.

Asked whether the uncertainty about the winger’s future has affected his selection decisions, the Arsenal manager said: ‘It can, but at the moment I still hope to extend his contract so, at the moment, it doesn’t affect me. Of course at some stage (it will).

‘If in April it’s not done (a new contract), you can think now it will be difficult to do.

‘Is the fans’ reaction a worry? It is. I think you want your players to be supported no matter what kind of contractual situation they are in.’

Wenger will select Tuesday’s team and brief his squad at their hotel, but will be forced to watch from the stands as he serves his third UEFA ban in a year.

The Arsenal boss said it was a ‘nightmare’ to be stopped from doing his job and expressed frustration that he will again be ‘powerless’ to influence proceedings from the technical area.