Football: Walcott hopes to get nod to lead England frontline if Rooney can't play

Arsenal's Theo Walcott said he hopes he can play up front for England should captain Wayne Rooney be unable to recover from an injury in time to face Estonia.
Arsenal's Theo Walcott said he hopes he can play up front for England should captain Wayne Rooney be unable to recover from an injury in time to face Estonia.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Arsenal's Theo Walcott is hoping to lead the line for England if Wayne Rooney does not recover from an ankle injury in time to face Estonia at Wembley on Friday.

The Manchester United and England captain is a major doubt for the Euro 2016 qualifier after missing two training sessions, with England manager Roy Hodgson reportedly set to name Gary Cahill skipper if Rooney misses the game.

Hodgson has used Walcott mostly on the right for England but the 26-year-old has impressed in a central role for his club this season and has admitted that is where he wants to play for the national team as well.

"I know everyone would like to see me up front," Walcott told reporters before the Estonia game. "Playing there for England, that's what I want to do."

England qualified for next year's finals in France with a 6-0 victory in San Marino on Sept 5 and have won all eight of their qualifiers so far.

Walcott, who grabbed a brace in the San Marino game and has 12 goals in his last 14 Premier League starts, revealed that his improved form was down to advice from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and former team-mate Thierry Henry, who is back at the club in a coaching role.

"He (Wenger) asked if I could be more aggressive on the pitch," Walcott said. "I actually said (to Wenger), 'Do you want me to start kicking people?' That was my first reaction. He said, 'No, I'm not saying that.'"

"Again he wanted me to be more aggressive in terms of running at players, closing them down, tracking back, being there and in their faces," Walcott added.

The striker also said Henry has been a key factor in his improvement.

"I have been chatting to him on a personal level behind the scenes as well to learn things from him," Walcott said. "It is a great tool to have in the locker... I've had quite a few words with him about some of the games I've played.

"He has just given me his analysis and if I've needed to ask him some questions about it, he's always there," he added.