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World Cup 2010

Walcott eager to cement place

May 2, 2010

Theo Walcott intends to make full use of the final two Premier League games of the season to cement his place in England's World Cup squad.

Theo Walcott
GettyImagesTheo Walcott has suffered with injuries this season

Walcott, 21, was hampered by injury earlier in the campaign, but has recently produced a number of impressive displays, including when he came off the bench to score in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona.

Walcott knows how important it is to finish the season in good form, especially with competition for places in Fabio Capello's final 23-man squad for South Africa hotting up after Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon's return from injury.

"I have not played much this season and I feel fresh, so hopefully the more games I get to play, the better I will be and I will get to be on the plane," he said. "The World Cup is the biggest dream of all for every boy - everyone dreams of a 1966 moment, at least I know I do.

"Hopefully we can make it another one. We believe we can win it and we will do everything to bring the World Cup back home - it has been too long."

Walcott came in for criticism following a subdued display in the international friendly against Egypt at Wembley during March - with former England winger Chris Waddle claiming he "doesn't understand the game".

The Arsenal forward - who smashed a famous hat-trick in the World Cup qualifier against Croatia at the start of last season - maintains his game is moving in the right direction.

"The thing about being a winger is that it is the end product which matters - you can do everything right, dribble past people and beat your men, but just not get a final ball in," Walcott said in the May edition of the official Arsenal magazine.

"Players like David Bentley and James Milner have that end product and hopefully I am showing that in my own game a little more.

"Sometimes people think I do not realise that it is quite hard to pick people out when you are running so quickly - I just try to put the ball into the space, and if players are getting into the box then it works even better."

Walcott joined Arsenal in a big-money move when still only 16 during January 2006 and suddenly found himself thrust into the spotlight when he was a controversial inclusion in Sven-Goran Eriksson's World Cup squad despite not having featured for the Gunners first team.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels the former Southampton trainee is on the right track, despite being an easy target for critics.

"After coming back from injury, I believe Theo is on the way to efficiency," Wenger said. "For me he has become more of a man this season, more responsible tactically and he is going the right way.

"Theo is improving and do not forget, he is still only 21."

Wenger had personally championed Walcott's inclusion in the last World Cup squad.

The Arsenal manager feels it would be a major disappointment were the young forward, who played for the Under-21s in last summer's European Championships, not to go to South Africa.

"As much as it was a little bit of a present last time, this time it would be a blow [if he missed out]," he said.