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Arsenal are waiting for the swelling to subside on the player's knee before booking him in for an operation, while colleague Abou Diaby is not likely to play again this season

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Theo Walcott is expected to undergo knee surgery this week as he comes to terms with the "devastating" impact of the injury that has ruled him out until next season, Goal understands.

Arsenal are hoping to find an immediate surgery slot for the England international as he begins the lengthy process of rebuilding his left knee in the wake of rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.

However, the Gunners must first wait until the swelling has subsided before they book the player in for what is a major operation.

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Arsenal announced on Monday that Walcott would be out "for at least six months" but, even if his surgery goes well and the rehabilitation is smooth, a more likely timeframe is nine months on the sidelines.

Walcott's colleague, Abou Diaby, tore his cruciate ligament, also in his left knee, in March 2013 and has still not returned to action.

Goal has now learned that Arsenal do not expect the Frenchman, who has suffered a series of setbacks in his recovery, to play again this season in what represents another savage blow to his injury-cursed career.

Walcott is understood to have been "devastated" when he was informed in a phone call on Monday of the scan results of the injury, which he sustained in the FA Cup win over Tottenham last Saturday.

In the immediate aftermath of the match, the forward was not in much pain and the severity of the damage was not apparent to the Gunners' medical team.

Arsene Wenger had said in his post-match media briefing that he hoped it was merely "a kick" and was encouraged by Walcott smiling and even offering a '2-0' gesture to the Tottenham fans as he left the pitch on a stretcher.

Even on Sunday, when the adrenaline of a derby match had subsided and Walcott woke up feeling that his knee had locked, it was feared that the 24-year-old had only strained his ligaments.

But the scan delivered the worst-case scenario of a torn cruciate ligament, ruling Walcott out of the rest of the season and the World Cup in the summer.

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