Walcott looks for game time to impress Capello

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The Independent Football

Theo Walcott is targeting a consistent run of games to prove how far he has progressed at Arsenal and hopefully force his way into Fabio Capello's plans.

Walcott, 18, waited seven months before he made his Premier League debut when he moved from Southampton two years ago and said he is willing to be patient as he fights for more appearances.

But he also feels regular games will help his development.

"You only get better by playing games, a consistent run of games that is," he said. "I've got to work hard in training, take every game as it comes, perform well and I'll get that consistent run. It's good at the moment really and if I get a consistent run of games I'll get better and better. I've got to perform and that's my main target. I'm trying to get a few more appearances for Arsenal."

Walcott made a goal-scoring return to St Mary's on Tuesday evening when he scored in England Under-21's victory over Republic of Ireland, taking his tally at that level past his Arsenal total of four.

After going to the 2006 World Cup with the senior squad, plenty was expected of Walcott but he is in competition with Emmanuel Adebayor, Eduardo and Robin van Persie at the Emirates Stadium. Nicklas Bendtner has also put his case forward to manager Arsène Wenger.

"I'm definitely patient," Walcott said. "I signed for Arsenal and didn't play for seven months so that shows quite a lot of patience. But I've got to perform to play."

Against Ireland's youngsters he played in attack on his own, and it is as a striker where he sees his future, rather than on the flanks.

"He [Wenger] signed me as a centre forward and that's where I've played all of the time really," Walcott said. "I'll play anywhere for the team though. I like playing up front, that's the position everyone sees me in. I'll perform in every game and try to boost my chances of playing in that position."

The Under-21s coach Stuart Pearce will report Walcott's progress to Capello as he is now part of the Italian's backroom staff with the seniors.

"He [Capello] is going to be a brilliant manager, I have to say," said Walcott.

Franco Baldini, also from Capello's team, addressed the players prior to the 3-0 win over Ireland, with James Milner impressing in the victory that should earn the Under-21s a play-off to reach the European Championships next year.

Walcott added: "He [Baldini] just said this is the next step to the big stage, that's all he said about the seniors, so you never know."

By moving a step closer to the finals in Sweden next year, Walcott could at last have his chance to perform at a summer tournament after his experience during the World Cup, when he was left unused by Sven Goran Eriksson.

They need a point against Portugal in September to make absolutely certain but Pearce wants victory.

Pearce said: "We've got one game left that we want to win to put Portugal out of the competition because we know they will be strong in the competition."

Scotland Under-21s fought back from two goals down to draw against Ukraine in Cartaxo, Portugal, ending their Vale do Tejo tournament campaign on a high yesterday.

Taras Stepanenko and Dmytro Lyopa had given Ukraine the lead with goals just before and after half-time. But Billy Stark's side came back and Falkirk midfielder Scott Arfield gave them hope by replying in the 64th minute. Ryan Conroy hauled them level when he netted six minutes later, but a winner was too much to wish for. The teams shared third place in the four-team tournament.