Walcott glad of football-free summer

Arsenal forward Theo Walcott believes he will be back to his best next season following a second successive summer without the rigours of international football.

Walcott was an unexpected absentee from Fabio Capello’s squad for the 2010 World Cup, which enabled him to make a superb start to last season.

The 22-year-old grabbed four goals in three games, three of them coming against Blackpool, before an ankle injury sidelined him until October.

The former Southampton starlet has revealed that he is attempting to replicate last summer's pre-season preparations this year - by going on holiday and taking care to remain free of injury and illness - as he hopes to hit the ground running again in 2011/12.

Speaking to Arsenal’s official website, Walcott said: "I feel great. There is a massive benefit not playing international football in the summer because we don't have a winter break like other leagues do, in Germany for instance.

"The Premier League is so demanding on your body, and mentally as well, so it's tough when it comes to summer to motivate yourself again. I just love to play football and I always give 100 percent but it helps to stay fresh when you don't have a tournament.

"It did make a big difference last year. I started off really well, I had a full pre-season, one of the first I've had for a long time, and I started off the season in great form before I got that unfortunate injury in September. I felt fantastic and hopefully there will be a bit more of that this year.

"I've had my illnesses in pre-season before and you are playing catch-up all the time if that happens but that's not the case this season so I'm really looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to the Asia Tour and then I'm looking forward to the season because it's going to be a big one for us."

By Andrew Kennedy