Arsenal's Theo Walcott is confident he will return from his latest injury lay-off a more complete player as the forward prepares for a long-awaited start against Hull City in the FA Cup on Sunday.
The jet-heeled striker has only three appearances under his belt since being out for almost a year with a serious knee injury, with a groin problem suffered while on international duty earlier in the season delaying his comeback.
Walcott came off the bench in the 2-0 Premier League defeat at Southampton, but is expected to lead the Arsenal attack in what is a re-run of last season's FA Cup final against Hull.
The 25-year-old is determined to show he still has what it takes to push defenders on the backfoot.
“It is about a year since [the injury] and it has gone very quickly. I have had loads of things in my life that have changed completely, so that side of it was a good thing,” said Walcott, who became a father in April.
“Things happen for a reason and it has given me the opportunity to work on different parts of my game that I missed out on when I was younger, the actual development stage of it.
“I am looking forward to going out there and getting a few minutes. I am not expecting too much from these games early on.
“It will be blowing the cobwebs away and will be good to be out playing with my mates again because I have missed it all.”
Walcott was not able to be at Wembley for the final last May, but was soon sharing in the celebrations after Arsenal recovered from going 2-0 down to win in extra-time when he made a FaceTime call with teammates Carl Jenkinson, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the pitch, before joining up with the rest of the squad for their open-top bus parade around Islington the following day.
“I wasn’t at the final as I had a personal thing in my life that happened, but I managed to watch it,” Walcott recalled.
“It was tough to take (going behind), but I have to say it was a special moment for everyone.
“To bounce back from that meant that we had the strength, depth and character. We just need to show more and more to make up for lost time.
“It had been so long (without a trophy) and that was the push start for everything to build on from that.”
Walcott added: “The history (of the club) is important and we want to become those legends as well so we need to knuckle down and start performing.”
Walcott is confident Arsenal can kickstart their campaign with another cup run.
“It is been a stop and start season at times, but I think being champions of the FA Cup will make us want to hold onto that,” he said.
“We have our home support and we have to bounce back from the Southampton game.”
Walcott added: “I think it means a lot to everyone but, being English, you always want to put that bit more effort into it.
“The fans always love a good cup run – they always like to go to those different stadiums.
“I enjoy going to a team in League One, things like that, which you don’t get the opportunity to do any more, are so special.”
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