Walcott sets sights on central role

Arsenal attacker Theo Walcott hopes that manager Arsene Wenger will use him in a more central role next season after often being deployed as a winger since making the move to Emirates Stadium from Southampton in 2006.

The 22-year-old England international enjoyed his most successful campaign to date last term, making 28 league appearances and netting nine times, but believes that he has now experienced the Premier League enough to play in a more central role for the Gunners.

With Arsenal and Wenger yet to change their transfer policies on paying huge transfer fees on players and instead relying heavily on the goals of Dutchman Robin van Persie, Walcott feels he has done enough to earn a place up-front in 2011/12.

"I want to do better than I did last season so I will look at my stats, but it’s not all about stats," he said at the launch of The FA and MARS Just Play scheme in London, a brand new nationwide initiative aiming to get adults in England playing regular football.

"It’s what you give to the team and sometimes, when you’re playing out wide, it’s difficult to get into the game and hopefully I can play up front a bit more next season.

“I would prefer playing up front, I was signed as a striker and the manager wanted to develop me out on the right, and I think I have shown what I can do this season. Hopefully he trusts me a bit more and I can play up front. I believe I can give something different to the team.”

The FA and MARS Just Play scheme aims to get a 150,000 new participants playing the game for at least 30 minutes a week by September 2013.

By Matt Maltby