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Feb 5, 2013

Walcott eyes central role for England

Theo Walcott has vowed to establish himself as a first choice striker in Roy Hodgson's England line-up after convincing Arsene Wenger to play him centrally for Arsenal.

Walcott insists he will "get in the face" of Hodgson ahead of Wednesday night's glamour friendly against Brazil at Wembley, with the 23-year-old convinced his conversion from winger to striker can extend to his international career.

"I will play anywhere for England and Arsenal, but I do believe I'm a striker and I'm sure in the next few years ''ll be playing a bit more regularly," Walcott said. "You need to get into the manager's face at training and prove how good you are. Everything is sorted for me at Arsenal now with the contract and the next test for me is to get my England career back where it should be.

"I have got quite a lot of caps already. I am only 23 and I have four goals and 30 caps. Not many people get 30 caps at my age, even though it feels like it has been a slow process for me at international level.

Now the next thing for me is to try and get into the forward line for England.

"A game against Brazil is one of those games that everyone wants to be part of. It is the opportunity to play against them and test yourself against the best. If I can produce the form I'm in for Arsenal, hopefully that will make England a better team."

Walcott, who made his full international debut as a 17-year-old in 2006, admitted he surpassed his own expectations after thriving in the lead striker role he was demanding at Arsenal for the last couple of seasons.

"I didn't expect it to go as well as it did," he said. "I thought it would take a few games to get used to it. I haven't played in that position for seven years. I have been doing it in training, but when it comes to a match it is totally different. It makes the job easier when you have got the likes of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere in the team, but it has been good.

"Of course, there are nerves and a lot of pressure in any game, but when you are demanding to play in a certain role and then you get the chance, you need to perform. Thankfully, it has gone well so far."

Injuries have often halted Walcott's progress in England colours, but he believes he is physically strong enough to stand up to the demands of playing at the highest level.

Walcott backed up his words after emerging unscathed from a few heavy challenges in Arsenal's win against Stoke on Saturday, even though he described himself as a "big softie".

"I'm starting to get more angry on the pitch than I used to be and I enjoyed getting whacked around against Stoke at the weekend," he said. "It was a different game, a different test, which I hopefully passed.

"There were loads of things happening off the ball that the linesmen and referees didn't see, but we got the win in the end. A few people have said it makes me look a little bit harder, but I honestly don't believe that because I am the biggest softie of them all."

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