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Doubts over Walcott

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Former England supremo Robson says Defoe is the man to go

LONDON, England -- Rookie Theo Walcott's inclusion as one of only four strikers in England's World Cup squad is a "terrific gamble" given doubts over the fitness of Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen warns ex-national manager Bobby Robson.

"I think that's a big risk," Robson, who led England to the 1990 semifinals, told Sky Sports News. "I can't see how (coach Sven-Goran Eriksson can take) that boy. He is potentially brilliant, and he is going to be exciting, but potential is nothing unless you can produce it.

"I would think he's way, way, way, miles away from international World Cup football."

Robson would have preferred to see Tottenham forward Jermain Defoe, a natural understudy for Owen, included in the squad rather than put on a stand-by list of five players who will be called up if anyone in the initial 23-man squad has to pull out.

"I think Defoe, having played quite a bit of Premiership football and doing well with England, would have been first choice over that young boy," Robson said.

"The squad worries me because he (Eriksson) is relying on Owen and Rooney - our two best strikers of course - to be fit. There's no guarantee that either will make it.

"There's some doubt about Owen I would think, he has finished the season not playing, so there's some doubt sadly.

"And Rooney is a big risk. If those two don't make it - and there is a possibility of that - we've got no strikers but Peter Crouch, so I don't know how he's going to work it. We could be seriously depleted."

Charlton striker Darren Bent, the highest-scoring Englishman in the Premiership this season, was bitterly disappointed to miss out on the squad announced on Monday.

"I wasn't taking anything for granted and knew that it was by no means certain that I would be included, but being the leading English goalscorer in the Premiership I was very hopeful of being included," Bent said.

"All I can do now is go away on holiday, recharge my batteries and look forward to next season."

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