Walcott: World Cup snub behind blistering start

Arsenal forward Theo Walcott believes his omission from England's World Cup squad this summer is behind his blistering start to the Premier League season.

The 21-year-old was left out of Fabio Capello's 23-man party to travel to South Africa, leaving the ex-Southampton youngster to fully focus on his own career development during the close season.

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And after helping himself to a hat-trick in Arsenal's 6-0 romp over Premier League newcomers Blackpool last weekend, Walcott reckons the break from football is responsible for his resurgent start to the season.

"I had a nice break, mentally, through the summer so I could think about things and am pushing on now," the England forward said.

"I am 21, so I want to play games every week now, it is a big season for me.

"I have been very unlucky with injuries last season and I am looking out for myself a bit more now. I am one of the last to leave now, always staying behind after training, practising things... crosses and set-pieces.

"It is down to me, so I will look after myself and am raring to go now."

Walcott was brought to Emirates Stadium for an estimated £12 million in 2006 after demonstrating his potential as a pacy forward for Southampton in the Championship.

Despite Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger largely utilising his pace on the wing, Walcott hopes Wenger is priming him for a more central role in the same way he transformed Thierry Henry from a flying winger into one of the world's deadliest strikers.

"I will happily play anywhere for Arsenal - there is a lot of competition up front now with Marouane [Chamakh] and Robin [van Persie], so as long as I provide goals and pop up with a goal now and then I'm happy with that.

"But if the boss wants me to play up front I'm buzzing from that. I am working in training up front so I'll go from there."

By James Martini

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