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Arsenal hotshot Theo Walcott ready to tough it out for England after shock World Cup axe

01 Sep 2010 15:47:14

Arsenal hotshot Theo Walcott ready to tough it out for England after shock World Cup axe

A good kicking from anopposing full back is not onlysomething Theo Walcottanticipates but something hesays he can now physicallywithstand. A good kicking from AlanHansen, however, was something thattook him by surprise and somethinghe remains a bit sore about. The England winger publicly reflected on themoment for the first time yesterday, explaininghow he had sat down at home, as he does mostweeks, to watch Match of the Day. Hot stuff: Theo Walcott has started the season like a house on fire And how,having scored three goals for Arsenal againstBlackpool hours earlier, he was aghast to seeHansen respond to his efforts with the bruisingdeclaration that his progress will always behindered by the absence of a football brain. Being the thoroughly nice young chap he is,Walcott was as diplomatic as possible indescribing the scene in his living room. 'I'm watching the goals go in and then I go offand make myself a cup of tea,' he said with awry smile. But you could sense the frustration,the desire to hit back at the former Liverpoolcaptain in the way he intends to respond everytime a defender dares try to intimidate him. Hansen had implied Walcott was a bit of aheadless chicken, but the Arsenal forward, 21,had clearly been advised not to engage in apublic row. Pay back: Theo Walcott is ready to answer his critics Instead Walcott chose to be dismissive. 'It's one of the things I have to livewith but everyone is entitled to their opinion,'he said. 'But the people I listen to are the boss, Mr Capello, the players and my family.They are the most important people inmy career. I'll do my talking on thepitch. It's mine: Theo Walcott takes home the match ball after his hat-trick against Blackpool 'I always want to improve. I'm still 21and I want to play every game when Ican, especially after last season with somany injuries. But at 21 I'm playing forArsenal and England and that is not abad achievement so far. 'I am workinghard. Listening to the right people. I always watch Match of the Day. Ilove watching it. If it's constructivecriticism you want to look at it now andthen. But I listen to my managers andthe players. Those are the most importantpeople to listen to. 'I have peopleon my side and people not on my side.You have ups and downs. It's how youreact to them that counts.' He says he reacted to the disappointmentof being omitted from England'sWorld Cup squad by first admitting tohimself that he probably didn't deserveto go before focusing on how to makesure he never suffers another such setback. That meant spending longer onthe training pitch but also working outin the gym. He is bigger and strongernow, he says. Meaner, too. He begins, rather impressively it hasto be said, by applying a sense of perspectiveto what happened to him inMay. It was bad news from the Football Association, not the kind of horrorsome British families are enduring havinglost loved ones in Afghanistan. But it hurt Walcott enough to convincehim that things needed to change. 'I couldn't point the finger at Mr Capelloor anyone,' he said. 'I had to blamemyself because the form wasn't there atthe end of the season and I just want tomake sure it doesn't happen again. 'I didn't deserve to go to the 2006World Cup. I hadn't played in thePremier League and justified beingthere at all. No go: Walcott was a shock omission from Fabio Capello's England squad for the World Cup 'And this time, well, theform wasn't there. I was trying to bethere and I had a feeling I could bethere, but I had to look at myself and goand prove people wrong on the pitch. 'I didn't have the best season. Somany injuries. But I'm a bit moremature now. I'm looking after myself abit better and I'm staying behind aftertraining, just trying to improve myself.' Critical: Alan Hansen wasn't to kind to Walcott on Match of the Day He says he is working on the kind ofthings that should satisfy his critics andmake him a more intelligent player. 'I stay behind to improve on thingslike the final ball, the end product, stufflike that,' he said. 'I practise on crossingand finishing, on penalties, I'm notthe best at penalties. Vito Mannonegoes in goal and I work with BacarySagna on the right, working on thatcombination and putting crosses in forthe strikers. 'We get Chamakh in there,too, so he can get used to where the crosses are going to go. It then, hopefully,pays off in the games. If you getyour body and your brain used to it, ithappens. 'Sometimes I still like to comeinside, and, hopefully, I'll get on thescoresheet again this season. But, as awinger, you also want to get wide andprovide assists. 'You want to keep the width, especiallyfor the fantastic players in themiddle. Arsene Wenger talks to meabout being aggressive, running atplayers. So far this season I've beendoing that.' Walcott has been accused ofbeing too nice, but he counters: 'Ithink you can be nice off the pitchand . . . look at David Beckham. He'sthe perfect example. 'Thenicest guybut someone who gets up from thetackles, puts in the deliveries. This season I've been going tothe gym more. I don't want to slowmyself down but if I got kickedwhen I was younger I probablywould have stayed down. 'Now Iget up. That's when a full backthinks, 'I'm going to have atorrid day'.' He clearly intends tomake Hansen squirm,too.  I don't blame Capello for leaving me out of World Cup squad, says WalcottCapello forced to draft in Arsenal reserve as keeping crisis hits new lowTerry's hamstring injury has been hampering him since the World Cup


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