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Monday, December 17, 2012
ESPNsoccernet: December 18, 2:35 PM UK
Walcott hopes to continue in central role

ESPN staff

Theo Walcott has confirmed talks with Arsenal over a contract extension will continue in 2013 after he scored during a rare appearance as a central striker against Reading on Monday.

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Gunners boss Arsene Wenger opted to start Walcott as his main striker at the Madejski Stadium, and was rewarded as the England international scored the clinching goal in a 5-2 win that raised the North London side to fifth in the Premier League table.

Speculation is rife that Walcott will leave the club over the next six months - either in the January transfer window or when his current contract expires next summer - but the 23-year-old insisted his future could yet remain at the Emirates Stadium.

"Talks are ongoing," Walcott told Sky Sports. "It's going to be a slow process. It's taking a long time but hopefully something will happen soon."

He added: "I enjoyed playing up front. It's about getting more opportunities and today the boss gave me an opportunity. I thought I did very well and the players around me always make my job easier."

Arsenal have come in for criticism of late but Walcott added: "We showed people the true Arsenal. We don't really take notice of the outside. We're a big family and we know our quality and that we're good enough."

After giving Walcott a chance to play the position he craves, Wenger hinted afterwards that the player may receive further opportunities to lead the line over the next few weeks after impressing with his display.

When asked why he gave Walcott the central striking role, Wenger replied: "Training sessions. He showed his abilities to play this position [in training]. The timing of his moves is good. I believe for his first game he has done very well in the position. Very encouraging signs."

Wenger also insisted that he has urged Walcott to extend his stay at the Emirates.

"It is not my decision, it is Theo's decision as well - if it is [only] my decision, it is quickly done," he said. "Theo has been educated at Southampton and Arsenal, where he has become a top level player here.

"I hope that when he considers his future he will think this is the best place for him and sign for us. I will just say our desire and will is clear, and Theo knows that. Hopefully we can get to a happy end with it."

Jack Wilshere, meanwhile, said he has been "working all year" on convincing Walcott to sign a new deal but added: "That's between Theo, his representatives and the boss but hopefully we can sign him up. He showed he can do it up front and hopefully he can play there in the future."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report




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