By Editor Wayne Veysey| Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this

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Theo Walcott is set to hand Arsenal a timely boost by returning to the team within the next week, Football Insider sources understand.

The England international has stepped up his recovery from a calf problem that has sidelined him for five weeks.

An Arsenal source has told Football Insider that Walcott is hopeful of being involved for Saturday’s Premier League clash against Sunderland but, if not, he should be available for the must-win Champions League match at Olympiakos next week.

Walcott has missed six matches since his last appearance, which was a 3-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup.

The forward pulled up with a calf strain 13 minutes after coming on as a fifth-minute substitute for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Football Insider revealed on 28th October that he would be sidelined for at least three weeks.

Red alert: Theo Walcott is closing in on a return to the Arsenal team

Red alert: Theo Walcott is closing in on a return to the Arsenal team

His return would be a major boost for Arsene Wenger, who is likely to be without Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla for Sunderland on Saturday.

Arsenal are awaiting the results of a scan on Sanchez’s injured right hamstring before they will know how long the Chilean will be sidelined but they are hopeful it will not be a lengthy absence.