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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 7, 2008

Walcott riding high after full England bow

Theo Walcott has waited more than two years since famously being taken to Germany - and he is now ready to fire England to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Sven-Goran Eriksson took a gamble on Walcott for the 2006 tournament but did not use the Arsenal forward, and the youngster finally got his first senior start when Fabio Capello selected him against Andorra for England's first qualifier of the campaign.

The 19-year-old's pace troubled the team ranked 186th in the world and he wants to do the same on Wednesday against Croatia, the side that defeated England twice in their Euro 2008 qualifiers during a campaign Walcott did not feature in.

Walcott said: "The confidence is there now. I've started every game this season for Arsenal bar one and I feel I've got so much confidence.

"I'm training well and when you are training well your confidence flows and it's just instinct really.

"I feel great. I'm buzzing at the moment. I'm flying. I'm looking forward to it. I just can't wait for Wednesday.''

Walcott had a hunch he would be given a start at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona when Capello told him to sit out a shooting session. It meant he earned a third cap after two substitute appearances.

"I've had a lot of experience at senior level and not had that opportunity to play. This time the boss gave me the opportunity and it was brilliant,'' he added.

"When I come off the bench I've played a lot on the wing so have a grasp on that position.

"I got battered but I always get battered. I'm used to it now and it doesn't bother me at all. I want to keep performing well now.''

Before starting against Andorra he was given a message of good luck from David Beckham, the man he replaced on the right wing.

When Beckham was brought on he was in a defensive-midfield role, while Walcott was instructed to keep using his pace to get behind Andorra.

"At the end of the day it's all about a squad - I was happy to get on and get another cap,'' Beckham said.

"We've worked hard together as a unit, not just the starting XI but everybody else that's in the squad. It's about the players that play and also the players that are on the bench.''

For Walcott, it was one of the first steps towards being remembered for something else other than the teenager Eriksson gambled on.

"I didn't listen to that - I just listened to my manager, the staff and the fans,'' Walcott added.

"That was the main issue, really. I wanted to concentrate on every game as it came, perform well and, yes, that's what I've got to do really. It doesn't bother me at all.

"I've had a lot of experience now. I've got to take the positives out of the Andorra game and take them into Wednesday. If we can do that I'm sure we will perform well and will be fine.''

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