Walcott: 'Every England starting place is up for grabs'

The Arsenal man, who was not selected in either of Roy Hodgson’s friendlies against Norway or Belgium, believes anyone can feature in the Euro 2012 opener against France on June 11

Theo Walcott believes every England position is up for grabs against France when the two sides meet in Donetsk on Monday.

“Everyone’s role is up for grabs,” Walcott said. “There is always competition in any team. You have to train well and when you are given an opportunity you have to take it. If you come off the bench, it’s what you do on the pitch that matters.”

Hodgson has several selection dilemmas ahead of the meeting with Les Bleus and Walcott believes all of the 23-man squad has a chance of making the starting line-up on June 11.

The Arsenal winger, 23, did not start in either friendly against Norway or Belgium under new manager Roy Hodgson but was a substitute in both matches.

England won both games 1-0 but were still criticized for their lack of attacking intent. Yet Walcott believes defensive consistency is more important than scoring goals at this stage.

“Two clean sheets are the most important thing,” Walcott claimed. “As a team structurally we are defending very well. The goals will come.

“If you go the whole tournament winning 1-0, I’m sure no one will complain about that.

“We are getting used to the way that Roy wants the team to set up and play.

“When you make a lot of changes you always expect lots of little holes but I don’t think that was the case. It’s a positive going into the tournament.”

And having missed several matches for Arsenal last season, Walcott is now hoping he can shrug off any injury problems to have a major impact on the tournament.

He said: “I’ve had the hamstring problem and I’m starting to ease my way back into it now.

“I’m training hard and I feel great. Looking after myself and hopefully I can show a bit more of that in a starting role next time.”

Wayne Rooney misses the first two matches of the European Championships with suspension, but Walcott hopes the squad can remain in the mix for when the Manchester United striker returns.

“Wayne is obviously a very important player to the team, that’s what we have to bounce back from,” he said. “You need to react from that disappointment."

“You never know, we might keep Wayne out of the team if we do well in the first two games,” Walcott joked.