With Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge injured, Theo Walcott will be hoping to start up front for England on Friday evening.
Walcott scored at Wembley back in May, the opener in the FA Cup final, a game which can almost be seen as the beginning of his claim to playing as a central striker.
Throughout the last month he has performed well and continued to score for Arsenal. Finally injury free, it’s time to do the same for England.
“The injuries I’ve had stunted this progress but I have to take my Arsenal form into my England career now,” the 16-year-old told the London Evening Standard as he hopes to be given the chance to impress for his country. “That’s the next stage. I’m getting more and more chances for Arsenal and I need to play well for them but then take that into England form.
“It is a good opportunity for a lot of players to stamp their authority on a tournament and I’m one of them.”
England have already qualified for Euro 2016 in France next summer and, with injuries to some key players, Walcott should have the chance to give Roy Hodgson some thinking to do.
In the absence of Danny Welbeck, Walcott’s Arsenal form has been superb. Now, with Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck and Dann wings all injured, he has another big opportunity.
“There is a lot of competition for places which is healthy. It bodes well for the Euros,” Walcott said. “To be coming off the bench is a nice option but I want to be doing it from the start now. It took me a while to get back to where I wanted to be but I am probably in a better place than I have been. I have looked after myself.”
Nine years after being selected for the World Cup squad as a teenager, Walcott has still not started a game at a major tournament for his country.
Now, linking up with and learning from the likes of Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil, he’s sharper than ever.
“I am strong, I am playing with a smile on my face and enjoying every minute. When you do play more and more, I am starting to play the position more as well. I hope everyone can see that.
“My team-mates as well seem to see the runs that I am making and know the sort of game that I am playing which helps them as well.”
His Arsenal team-mates are helping him, and he is making us a better team. Now he has to click for England to force his manager’s hand.