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Walcott wants England progress

Theo Walcott wants to reproduce his impressive Arsenal form for England and move his international career to "where it should be".

Walcott has been the outstanding performer in an indifferent season for the Gunners and is their leading scorer with 18 goals.

Now the 23-year-old wants to make the same impression for his country and become a regular member of the side under Roy Hodgson, starting with Wednesday's international friendly with Brazil at Wembley.

The withdrawals of Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge through injury could even present an opportunity in the central striking role Walcott craves for at Arsenal.

He said: "I have been happy with the last couple of seasons but this one has stood out.

"At the start of the season, I wasn't playing at all but I felt I reacted in the right way.

"Hopefully I have proved something to the manager (Arsene Wenger) and he can believe in me like I believe in him.

"Now the next step is to get my England career where it should be. We have a young squad that is eager to do well. You want to be playing from the start."

However is he doesn't make the starting XI, Walcott insists he won't be too downbeat.

"If you get a chance coming off the bench, it is the way you make your mark. I want to give the manager a headache," he added.

"I have had limited opportunities and every time I have come away with England I have managed to get injured, which has set me back slightly.

"But I am only 23. I have four goals and 30 caps. Not many people get 30 caps at my age.

"I am very pleased with the way things are going. It is a slow process but, if I can get my club form going with England, I will be on top of my game.

"I will play anywhere for England. Things are going quite well for Arsenal on the right but Daniel and Jermain are both out so there is an opportunity (with England).

"That is the manager's choice. I trained up front today with Wayne so you never know.

"I will play anywhere for England and Arsenal but I do believe I'm a striker and I'm sure in the next few years I'll be playing a bit more regularly."

Walcott was a youngster at Arsenal when Ashley Cole was part of the dressing room and is quick to recognise how he can learn off him as well as the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Cole is poised to win his 100th cap against the Brazilians, 11 years after making his debut.

Walcott said: "It is a fantastic achievement. There are only a few top-class players in that category (who reach 100 caps) and I am sure there will be many more to come.

"He is a difficult player to play against. I learned a lot from him. I got the better of him in the last couple of meetings, which I wind him up about all the time.

"We get on very well. I am only going to learn from the likes of him, Steven and Frank.

"Ashley is massively important. He is so experienced and has won many things. A lot of players look up to him.

"He is a strong character. He can deal with anything. It is all about the game. Nothing fazes him. He is very concentrated."

Walcott has praised the "mental strength" of Gunners team-mate Jack Wilshere in returning to the England squad after his lengthy injury lay-off.

He said: "I think the way he's started after so long out for Arsenal is absolutely fantastic. You have to give him credit. He's worked so hard to get back fit.

"To come back into an England team at such a young age at a high standard shows how good he is. He is mentally strong as well.

"I play with him every week and see him in training too and he loves every minute of it, and he's only getting better.

"He's strong, he's very level-headed and he can look after himself so he will not look out of place at all."