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Theo Walcott frustrated by lack of Arsenal playing time

Walcott frustrated by lack of playing time
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England international hopeful Theo Walcott confesses that he has been left upset by his lack of minutes so far in what has been a "stuttering start to the season".

Arsenal attacker Theo Walcott has admitted that he has been frustrated by his lack of playing time this season, which he believes could hinder his chances of an England recall.

The 28-year-old started just his fourth game of the campaign on Thursday night, setting up Olivier Giroud's late winner in the Europa League tie against Red Star Belgrade.

Walcott has been restricted to just three substitute appearances in the Premier League, meanwhile, but the Southampton academy product is not giving up hope of adding to his 47 England caps before next summer's World Cup finals.

Asked if he was motivated to force his way back into Gareth Southgate's plans, he told reporters: "Of course. That is why I need to be playing football, simple as that. But I need to deserve to be playing. So in this competition, cup games, Premier League when given the chance, I need to take it.

"That is the only chance I have to get back into the England squad. It is down to hard work. If I work harder than anyone else... I know my qualities, how good I am. I have got so much experience under my belt, there's no reason why I can't prove people wrong and get back in that squad.

"It is a very young squad and I feel like maybe a bit of experience is always handy coming into tournaments. But the manager picks [the squad]. I can't lie, it has obviously been very difficult the way the season has started. I had such a big influence last year and the amount of goals I scored but now it has been a bit of a stuttering start to the season.

"The manager knows that I've always been there for him. I have managed to bounce back from worse things but it is just one of those things in football you have got to deal with. I am dealing with it in the right way and that's to be completely focused. That's all I can be."

Walcott was used on 28 occasions in the top flight by Arsene Wenger both last season and the year before.

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Arsene Wenger watches on during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Bournemouth on September 9, 2017
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