Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain eager to remain focused for both Arsenal and England

The midfielder has been surprised by the speed of his progress

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain intends to take everything in his stride for club and country as England push on towards the 2014 World Cup.

Arsenal's attack-minded midfielder, 19, was called up into the senior Three Lions squad for the first time ahead of the 2012 European Championships, where he started the opening game against France in Donetsk.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has certainly come a long way in a short time since being signed by Arsene Wenger as a raw talent from Southampton two years ago.

The midfielder, though, is determined to keep himself focused on each new challenge as it comes along.

Speaking at an event organised by England sponsor's Vauxhall, Oxlade-Chamberlain told Press Association Sport: "I have a bit more experience now, from both club and international level, on and off the pitch.

"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."

Oxlade-Chamberlain added: "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.

"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."

Natural similarities are drawn between the progress of Oxlade-Chamberlain and his Arsenal team-mate Theo Walcott, another product of the Southampton Academy and now regular for Roy Hodgson's England squad.

"Theo is a brilliant player, so I don't really mind getting compared to him," Oxlade-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."

Defender Rio Ferdinand has pulled out of the England squad as the Manchester United veteran continues to carefully manage his fitness.

Oxlade-Chamberlain feels it is important to get the right blend of promising youth and experience within Hodgson's group.

"Rio not joining the squad is disappointing for us, but whomever comes in to replace him is capable of doing a good job," he said.

"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.

"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."

England take on Group H bottom side San Marino away on Friday night, before then heading to Podgorica for a showdown with leaders Montenegro.

"They will be two hard games in different ways, when we played San Marino at Wembley, it took us half and hour to break them down, so sometimes you have to be patient. Going away it will be even more difficult," said Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored his first senior international goal in the 5-0 victory over San Marino at Wembley in October.

"We have to approach both games with the utmost respect for the opposition, prepare really well and will be going to get three points in each game.

"Montenegro are top of the group at the moment, but we have the quality in our team to come away with victory if we do everything right."

Oxlade-Chamberlain, though, maintains there is no sense within the England camp of the job already being done.

"As a squad, we know we are not there yet and what a job we have in hand to make sure we do reach the World Cup," he said.

"This nation has too many talented players not to make it, and we have to do everything in our power to get there - starting this week with two hard qualifiers when we will be out to get the right results and push on."

PA

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