• Premier League

Walcott not taking England place for granted

ESPNsoccernet staff
October 10, 2011

England winger Theo Walcott knows not to be complacent over a place in the squad for Euro 2012 after his World Cup disappointment.

Walcott was an integral part of the England squad which qualified for last summer's finals in South Africa, scoring a hat-trick away in Croatia, but a drop in form in the months leading up to the tournament meant he was left out.

While Walcott is back in manager Fabio Capello's plans, he knows he will have to continue to play well to make the plane to Poland and Ukraine. With Aaron Lennon set to return from injury, Adam Johnson able to play on the right and the upcoming presence of Arsenal team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain there is competition for squad places.

Walcott said: "You've got to play well for your club and the manager will pick players on form, so I'm not going to look too far ahead after what happened to me a couple of years ago. He plays players in form and you always get a chance to play and show what you can do and hopefully we can take that into the tournament when it comes to it.

"Firstly I'm going to be concentrating on Arsenal after the poor start we've had. But it's great to have qualified with England - and the fans were great in Montenegro even when we went to 2-2. This shows what it means to them.

"There are mixed emotions because they scored that last goal - and them going through as well is great for them. But we are happy. We just needed to get a draw. We didn't go out to get a draw. We wanted to win the game but maybe there was a lapse of concentration in the first half.

"It was great to go 2-0 up but we were quite sloppy in the last 10 minutes of the first half and they made it 2-1. But we got the draw and that is the most important thing."

England now have two friendlies lined up against Spain in November and then Netherlands in February, as long as the Dutch are not drawn in England's group for the finals. Both will be played at Wembley, where England have struggled of late.

"When we play away, a lot of teams have got to come at us so it gives so much more space for the likes of me, Ashley [Young] and Stewie [Downing]. It makes our job so much easier but, with our pace and the young, experienced players we've got now, it is a good balance.

"The friendlies are always good to try players out and when you play against these top teams, who were in the World Cup final, it is going to test us. In friendlies, the result doesn't matter but we want to win.

"It doesn't matter who we play but the manager will get bits out of players he hasn't seen before and it is nice for those on the fringe to show what they can do. But you don't know if the starting line-up in Montenegro will play against Spain and Holland. Injuries might happen.

"When it comes to it, I'll focus on that - but my first priority now is Arsenal."

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