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Theo Walcott was left off of England's World Cup roster by manager Fabio Capello. ((Michael Regan/Getty Images))

Theo Walcott was omitted from England's final 23-man World Cup squad Tuesday, one of seven players dropped by coach Fabio Capello after a training camp.

Capello preferred the more experienced Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips to the Arsenal winger, who was at the 2006 World Cup at age 17 but never played.

Capello also left Darren Bent, Tom Huddlestone, Adam Johnson, Scott Parker, Michael Dawson and Leighton Baines out of the party that heads to South Africa on Wednesday.

Defensive midfielder Gareth Barry is included despite an ankle injury that could still rule him out of England's opening group match against the United States on June 12.

Bent's omission means Emile Heskey will go to a second World Cup despite starting fewer than half of Aston Villa's Premier League matches this season.

"I am very disappointed not to be included in the squad going out to South Africa, but completely respect Mr. Capello's decision," Walcott said in a statement on Arsenal's website. "I would like to wish the team the best of luck and hope they have a really successful tournament."

Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe are the other strikers on a squad featuring three goalkeepers, eight defenders and eight midfielders.

Walcott looked certain to make it into the World Cup squad in September 2008 when he scored a hat trick against Croatia to lead England to a 4-1 win in what commentators had said would be its toughest qualifying match.

England has won all 11 games in which Walcott has played but injuries and loss of form restricted him to just 12 Premier League starts this season.

Walcott was included as one of four strikers on England's squad four years ago even though he had never played a Premier League game following a high-profile transfer to Arsenal.

But he never made it off the bench despite injury to Michael Owen and a red card to Rooney in the quarterfinal exit to Portugal.

Cole's return to fitness and performance in Saturday's 2-1 friendly win over Japan appear to have unseated Walcott from the squad, while Johnson's late entry to international soccer may have counted against him.

Johnson joined Manchester City in January and made his international debut with five minutes of action in last week's 3-1 friendly win over Mexico.

Wright-Phillips has scored six goals in 31 international appearances and, with former captain David Beckham out injured, will compete for a wide midfield place with Aaron Lennon and James Milner.

Wright-Phillips and Lennon can both play on either wing with more ease than Walcott.

Milner and Michael Carrick are on the squad and can cover for Barry, who has been out for a month with an ankle injury and may not be fit until the second group match against Algeria on June 18.

David James, Robert Green and Joe Hart are the three goalkeepers, with Ledley King included ahead of fellow Tottenham defender Dawson despite a chronic knee condition that requires rest between matches. 

Squad

Goalkeepers: David James (Portsmouth), Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Manchester City).

Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ledley King (Tottenham), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa).

Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), James Milner (Aston Villa), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Gareth Barry (Manchester City).

Strikers: Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham).