Arsenal winger Theo Walcott believes focusing fully on his own development this summer has paid dividends.
The youngster hit a hat-trick as the Gunners destroyed Blackpool 6-0 and he feels that taking a little time out this summer — after being surprisingly overlooked by Fabio Capello for England's World Cup squad — has helped him come into the new season feeling sharper than ever.
"I had a nice break, mentally, through the summer so I could think about things and am pushing on now," the England forward told reporters.
"I am 21, so I want to play games every week now, it is a big season for me.
"I have been very unlucky with injuries last season and I am looking out for myself a bit more now. I am one of the last to leave now, always staying behind after training, practicing things ... crosses and set-pieces.
"It is down to me, so I will look after myself and am raring to go now."
Walcott was initially signed as an out-and-out striker by the Gunners. He feels that he could certainly offer something in that position but is leaving the tactical decisions to his manager Arsene Wenger.
"I will happily play anywhere for Arsenal - there is a lot of competition up front now with Marouane [Chamakh] and Robin [van Persie], so as long as I provide goals and pop up with a goal now and then I'm happy with that.
"But if the boss wants me to play up front I'm buzzing from that. I am working in training up front so I'll go from there."
One player who made the transition from a wide to striking role at Arsenal to being a center-forward was Thierry Henry.
Walcott has not been pestering the former Gunners star for advice though.
"No, I have not spoken to him at all," the youngster added.
"It's difficult to get hold of him and I'd probably have a massive phone bill as well because I'd bother him every single night! But I am sure he'll do very well out in the MLS."
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