• International football

Hodgson warns Walcott: Don't expect central role

ESPN staff
February 6, 2013 « Gerrard: Don't burden Wilshere with expectations | Chartbeat test »
Theo Walcott is not likely to get a central role from Roy Hodgson © PA Photos
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England head coach Roy Hodgson has told Theo Walcott not to expect a central role with England anytime soon.

Walcott, 23, has increasingly been used through the middle by his club this season - after pressuring Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to give him the opportunity during a period of uncertainty about his future in north London.

The change has generally been effective - Walcott has scored 18 goals so far for the Gunners - and the former Southampton trainee this week announced his attention to make his case for a similar role with the national team. However, on Tuesday Hodgson took Walcott aside and told the forward that is not how he intends to deploy him.

Hodgson believes Walcott should instead focus on terrorising defenders regardless of where he is placed in the attacking ranks, and showing greater consistency in his overall play.

"I've spoken to Theo, but he has to realise you can be a forward today in a number of positions," Hodgson said. "He has to make sure every time he plays for Arsenal or England, wherever he's asked to play in that forward position, he shows us what a good forward he is: he can get past players, use his pace and use his technique to score his goals."

Hodgson, however, stressed that he does not believe Walcott is as focused on being the main striker as has been made out in some quarters, adding: "I know that he himself is nowhere near as hung up on it as it's suggested in terms of whether he starts on the right, left or in the centre.

"He just wants to play and be the forward that Arsenal believe in and count upon to win them games."

Rather than Walcott's preferred positioning, Hodgson is more concerned with improving England's home record - which has seen them win just five of their last 11 games at Wembley.

Former England boss Fabio Capello suggested the stadium instilled fear in England players but Hodgson is not so sure.

"Only winning five out of 11 isn't great," Hodgson said. "But it's too early in my time with the team, and my experiences with Wembley, to start making the bolder statements Capello was capable of making after four years in the job.

"I don't fear Wembley. I don't think the players fear Wembley.

"We think it's a wonderful place to play. I'm hoping there isn't some hoodoo or mental blockage."

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