'Aggression' powering impressive Walcott
Theo Walcott revealed he is working on adopting a more aggressive streak after his man-of-the-match performance for England Under-21s.
The Arsenal star shone with a powerful display in last night's 2-0 win over Bulgaria in Milton Keynes.
The second half was illuminated by a series of surging runs from Walcott including a fine run in the 82nd minute which led to Liverpool goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov bringing him down for a decisive penalty, which was converted by James Milner.
Walcott momentarily grappled with Milner for the ball before watching the Newcastle man fire home and he believes his improved confidence is beginning to show on the pitch.
'I am working on being more aggressive,' said Walcott. 'Not aggression as in kicking players but having the confidence and aggression to run at players.'
Walcott added he feels he is finally over a shoulder problem that needed surgery in the summer.
'My shoulder is fine now and that has helped because I feel more confident holding off players,' he explained. 'I know I can run at players now without having to worry about it popping out and I'm really happy with it.'
Walcott has been involved for Arsenal side on a more consistent basis this season, scoring a brace in the 7-0 Champions League thrashing of Slavia Prague in October, and the 18-year-old is hopeful of repaying club boss Arsene Wenger's faith in him.
He said: 'I'm just concentrating on working hard on playing well and trying to keep my place in the team, for club and country. I'm playing more for Arsenal now and I think that is starting to show in my confidence on the pitch.
'I'm getting my touch back now after a period where I didn't play for a very long time. When you're in and out of the side all the time, it's very difficult but I'm more settled now.
'The boss has shown his faith in me and I want to repay that. I just want to do well for England and take that form back to my club.'
Walcott switched between the right and left wing for Stuart Pearce's side last night and has also been deployed primarily in wide areas for the Gunners.
But Walcott insists his long-term future is as a central striker.
He said: 'I think everyone sees me through the middle eventually but I'm happy to play anywhere at the minute. I am still learning my trade and enjoying playing on the wing but hopefully one day I'll be up front.
'I'm still only 18, which people sometimes forget, and the future will look after itself.'
Pearce was delighted with Walcott's performance and believes he is benefiting from regular football.
He said: 'Consistently, over the 90 minutes, he got me off my feet and excited me. His appetite to play the game was there. He's full of it at the minute and has been all season.
'If we can get matches under his belt, it's going to be a benefit to him and he's playing for Arsenal a touch more regularly this season and you can see that.
'He was a thorn in their side the whole game. He's a box of tricks, he's game and he wants to improve the whole time.
'He's at a fantastic club with a fantastic manager and he couldn't be doing any better.'