Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed the key thing which has driven Theo Walcott to improve his performances at the start of the new Premier League campaign.
The 27-year-old Englishman finished off a stunning move to score his third league goal of the season on Saturday as the Gunners comprehensively beat Chelsea 3-0.
Walcott burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old and was a shock inclusion in Sven Goran Eriksson's England World Cup squad ten years ago, but it's fair to say that he hasn't quite lived up to his potential thus far after graduating from Southampton's famed academy.
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According to his boss, Walcott is being fuelled by his desire and determination to represent his country at a major international tournament. He has still never played for the Three Lions at a European Championships and wasn't included in Roy Hodgson's Euros squad in the summer.
The winger struggled for regular playing time at the Emirates Stadium last term, however, his form has been good in the early parts of this season and he was involved in Sam Allardyce's first game as England boss in Slovakia three weeks ago.
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Wenger said, via The Mirror: "What was a big blow for him was not to go to the Euros. He is a guy with a good assessment of his performances and qualities. I said many times at the start of the season that we would see a different Theo Walcott."
The 66-year-old Frenchman admitted that the pacey forward is still hurt at not fulfilling his true potential with his country.
"Yes, (I spoke with him) about the disappointment of not going with England," Wenger added. "He is a special case. He went at 16 to the World Cup. We are now at 2016 and he hasn't been to another World Cup.
"He has matured. When a player survives this type of disappointment from what was promised for him at 16, you always feel there is something special in this guy because of the way he deals with the situation."
The Arsenal manager continued: "He is intelligent, Theo. He assesses well his own performances. He is 27, it's a very important age. I think he used to be 90 per cent forward and 10 per cent defending. Today he is 50-50.
"He does the job both ways and he does it both ways with commitment. And I always felt there is character and intelligence in this boy."
England are next in action on October 8 and 11 at home to Malta and away to Slovenia respectively. If Walcott can keep his good form up for Arsenal until then, Allardyce may well reward him with a starting place for those 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Can Walcott regain his place in England's starting XI? Have YOUR say in the comments box below!
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