• International football

Ox relishing England place

ESPN staff
March 19, 2013
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain believes Theo Walcott has helped improve his game © PA Photos

Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain insists he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground following his call-up to the England squad to face San Marino and Montenegro.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, who plied his trade at Southampton before a £12 million move to Arsenal in 2011, has accepted that his rise to senior international duty has been rapid, but is now concentrating on taking everything in his stride.

"My progress into the first-team at Arsenal and the senior England squad was quite quick, probably quicker than I ever thought it was going to be," Oxlade-Chamberlain said. "I really just try to keep my head down, focused on my targets, and take everything in my stride.

"I have only achieved a tiny percentage of what I want to achieve in a small fraction of my career.

"I know I have got a lot more hard work to do and a long way to go, so I don't really think about how quick things have gone because I just want to keep improving myself and keep pushing on."

Following an impressive debut season at Arsenal, Oxlade-Chamberlain, was shocked to receive a call up to England senior side ahead of Euro 2012. The 19-year-old started the opening game against France in Donetsk, and believes the experience gained from tournament football is vital in developing his international career.

"I have a bit more experience now, from both club and international level, on and off the pitch," he said.

"The experience of going to the Euros with tournament football stands me in better stead looking towards the World Cup, but I still have a lot of hard work to do to make that squad for Brazil, if we do qualify."

The midfielder also believes that a blend of youth and experience is a necessity at international level.

"With the experience of these players, it is really important to have that, I learned that from going to the Euros, when I was one of the most inexperienced players there," he said.

"To have players like Steven Gerrard around me, to be telling me what is what, just watching the way he trains.

"We have a good balance in the squad and the younger ones can always learn from them."

Oxlade-Chamberlain, often compared to team-mate Theo Walcott, was quick to praise his Arsenal and England counterpart on aiding his development.

"Theo is a brilliant player, so I don't really mind getting compared to him," Chamberlain said. "He really helps me out a lot and has done ever since I stepped into Arsenal and coming away with England.

"This season he has been really good for Arsenal, scoring a lot of goals, which is what I am trying to add to my game, so I can learn from him in that sense.

"But I don't really look at it in terms of what he has done and what I am doing, I just focus on what I need to do to achieve the goals I set for myself."

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