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By ESPN Staff
May 9, 2006

Walcott says he can handle the pressure

Theo Walcott believes he can handle the pressure of playing at the World Cup after being named in England's 23-man squad at the age of 17.

The Arsenal forward, yet to play a competitive game for the Gunners, was the shock inclusion in Sven-Goran Eriksson's provisional squad.

Walcott, who was playing for Southampton in the Coca-Cola Championship six months ago, insists he will take it in his stride if he is called on in Germany.

'I've played in front of big crowds before and it's going to be different but I think I can handle it.

'I'm just going to give it my best.'

At the time of the squad announcement Walcott was taking his driving theory test and was oblivious to all the fuss.

'I was taking my driving test in Southgate,' he said. 'I switched off my phone and put it in my locker.

'I turned it back on at 3pm, phoned my dad and could not believe it was true really.

'He said to me you're in the England squad and I thought he was having me on. I was shocked and surprised as everyone was.

He added: 'My first thoughts were that I can't believe this is true. First the move to Arsenal and then this, it is unbelievable.'

Walcott did not speak to Eriksson yesterday but confirmed the outgoing England chief called him this morning.

'He spoke to me today to wish me all the best and said he is looking forward to watching me train in Portugal.

'Most players don't get to go to a World Cup - I'm the lucky one.

'Becoming England's youngest player would be something special, the likes of Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney were put in at young ages and if I do something like they've done in their careers it would be special.'