Walcott hits the gym

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He might not quite be the bionic man but Theo Walcott is definitely hoping to be bigger, stronger and faster this season.

The 21-year-old realises he must keep his pace if he is to make maximum use of his abilities as an England wide-man. But the increasingly physical nature of the international arena means Walcott must also bulk up if he is to withstand the batterings he is likely to get.

"I have been going to the gym a bit more," he revealed. "I don't want to slow myself down but there were occasions when I was 17 or 18 if I got kicked that I probably would have stayed down."

He continued: "Now, if I do get kicked, I just get up from it. That is when the left-back thinks 'I am going to have a torrid time today'."

It is the kind of belligerent attitude Walcott intends to use in order to show that despite being a perfectly pleasant young man, he has the steel to make a success of the football trade.

The Arsenal star has certainly shown a commendable desire to bounce back from the anguish of missing out on a place at the World Cup.

And, ahead of Friday's opening Euro 2012 qualifier with Bulgaria at Wembley, has vowed to ignore the criticism from Alan Hansen and Chris Waddle, who have condemned him for lacking a football brain, and concentrate instead on listening to Arsene Wenger, Fabio Capello and others whose judgement he trusts.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion but the people I listen to are the boss, Mr Capello, the players and my family," he said.

"They are the most important people in my career.

"I sit on my own watching Match Of The Day, watching the goals go in, then I go off and make myself a cup of tea."

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