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Walcott justified in pleas to play up front for England, as well as club

| 06.02.2013

Theo Walcott’s form through the middle for Arsenal has prompted the 23-year-old to voice his intentions of nailing down a centre forward berth in an England shirt.

Arsene Wenger finally caved to the former Southampton man’s constant badgering to play up front this season and has seen Walcott prove his worth in that position by contributing a total of 18 goals to the Gunners’ cause.

This haul is, by far and away, the largest of his career to date and, with plenty of games remaining, he is all but assured to pass the 20-goal barrier.

These improved fortunes have seen him turn his attentions to Roy Hodgson and how he’s going to chip away at the England boss’ insistence of playing him on the right wing.

He said: “It would be a dream to play up front for England, but, obviously, the manager makes the decisions.”

Walcott’s Three Lions’ record in front of goal doesn’t make for great reading, having just four strikes to show for his 30 caps – three of which famously coming in one match – though he would obviously argue that he’s been played out of position in every international appearance he’s made.

Whether Hodgson intends to utilise Walcott’s pace up front will become clearer during England’s friendly with Brazil. A strong squad has been selected for the clash, presumably, in order to hone tactics ahead of important World Cup qualifiers that will take place the following month.

There’s no harm in allowing Walcott to test his striking mettle against opposition as formidable as the Brazilians and it’s not as though the current attacking players are setting the world on fire for their country.

His pace has defenders scared stiff and how he effortlessly stretches backlines at club level will give the England team an extra dimension. Furthermore, it wouldn’t be entirely outlandish to argue that, of all the current English frontmen, none of them are as accomplished finishers as Walcott.

His ability to take defenders on and whip a cross in, however, leaves plenty to be desired which is why he’s never lived up to anything like his potential on the international scene.

Giving him the chance to peddle his wares up top in the upcoming friendly is something Hodgson should be seriously considering if he wants to get the best out of one of his most exciting players and, if he obliges, Walcott’s 9/1 to open the scoring could prove an excellent bet.

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James Middleton