Theo Walcott in optimistic mood over England future


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The Independent Football

Theo Walcott insists the future is bright for England despite suffering more penalty shoot-out heartbreak during Euro 2012.

The Arsenal winger and his England colleagues are now back home from Poland and Ukraine after losing 4-2 to Italy on spot-kicks in Sunday evening's quarter-final clash in Kiev.

But Walcott believes the plus points have outweighed the negatives and that England should look forward with confidence to the World Cup qualifiers which start in September.

The 23-year-old said: "We have got to look forward to the future because it is going to be bright. I am sure of that.

"We have to have our heads raised up high and we have got to look forward to the World Cup qualifiers coming up soon.

"We'll have a good break, and everyone deserves it, but a lot of experience was learnt in that game against Italy, especially for the young players - and I am one of them

"A lot of players have made names for themselves in this tournament and that's all we can do.

"We've got to look for the positives and learn from the negatives."

Walcott added: "We will be stronger, we can only get better and better.

"We had a short time with Roy (Hodgson) being the manager and now we can look forward to the qualifiers.

"But everyone needs to just rest and relax because it's going to be a tough season. We've got some tough games in the qualifiers."

Walcott remains perplexed as to why England have such a dismal record in penalty shoot-outs.

They have now crashed out of the 1990, 1998 and 2002 World Cups and Euro 96, 04 and 12 in such a fashion with Ashley Young and Ashley Cole failing from the spot against the Italians.

He said: "I don't know how to answer why we cannot win penalties shoot-outs.

"It can go either way. Emotions are high. It is a difficult one. Anyone can win."

Defender Glen Johnson admits England need to learn to keep possession of the ball better with the Italians dominating in that department for long periods.

He said: "They had the majority of possession and, when you haven't got the ball, you are working that bit harder.

"When we did have the ball, we weren't fresh enough to cause as much damage as we would have liked and there were bits of lapses in concentration.

"Seeing more of the ball is important. There were times when we gave the ball away cheaply.

"We definitely need to keep the ball a bit better and then, when we do go forward, we will be a bit fresher to cause teams more problems."