On-Song Theo Focused On Everton

by Paul McNamara

Theo Walcott says he is in peak condition and primed to help Everton fulfil the enormous potential he identified when signing from Arsenal.

Walcott struck for the second successive week in the Blues’ 2-2 draw at Bournemouth on Saturday and might have added to his tally if he had not been fouled by last-man Adam Smith later in the second half.

The 29-year-old’s productive start to the campaign is all the more impressive after an ankle problem prevented him from properly tackling Marco Silva’s pre-season programme.

Walcott’s tremendous form has led to speculation he might have the chance to add to his 47 England caps next month. But the forward is focusing only on what he can do for Everton and targeting victory over Rotherham United on Wednesday when the Blues launch their latest bid for silverware in the Carabao Cup.

“My ambition is to play well for this Club and for the Club to achieve what I believed it could when I joined,” said Walcott.

“If I play well, who knows? But my goal isn’t England. My goal is to be playing well for Everton, for those fans who were fantastic at Bournemouth.

"I’ve got to stay fit but I’m feeling as fit as ever. With the training we do, I’ve got to be fit. Now we have got Wednesday’s game and hopefully we can have a good cup run.

"I’ve come to the Club for it to be pushing into the European places and there’s no reason why we can’t, especially the way we are playing at the moment.

"We are only going to get better and the players who have joined are going to be available soon, so when they are bedded in and used to the culture and the way we play, we’re only going to get stronger.

“You always want to play for your country – I’ve got 47 caps and I want more. If the team plays well, we’ll see where it takes me.”

It is a measure of the intensity of manager Silva’s daily – or twice-daily – training sessions that the Englishman reckons he has never felt better in his 13-year career.

The Toffees reserves of stamina came in particularly handy at Bournemouth following Richarlison’s dismissal four minutes before half-time.

The Brazilian’s red card left the Blues a man down for the second time this season. And, just as they did at Wolverhampton Wanderers when Phil Jagielka was ordered off in the first half, Silva’s men reacted to the setback in stirring fashion.

Walcott finished off a sweeping counter attack and Everton doubled their lead when Michael Keane met a cross from Gylfi Sigurdsson to head home. Those goals sandwiched Smith’s sending off for bringing down Walcott.

But Bournemouth responded to what amounted to a triple blow by summoning a fightback and drawing level with strikes from Joshua King and Nathan Ake.

Walcott, who also scored one goal and set up another in last week’s victory over Southampton, was understandably downcast about dropping two points. His overriding emotion, however, after Everton served up some scintillating football at the Vitality Stadium, was one of excitement.

“For the first 25 minutes in the second half we played some really good stuff – when we went down to 10 men, we sort of enjoyed working hard for each other,” said Walcott. "That is what you have to do – work as a unit.

“We did that and expressed ourselves with our football. We were then a bit sluggish and let them back in it, for whatever reason. We paid the price but at half-time we probably would have taken a draw. It’s just disappointing because of the positive way we played.

"We train very hard every day. The intensity is very high and that is what we try to bring to our game. I think you can sense the style we are playing is a bit different. We are playing some really good stuff and I’m pleased with the way we are starting the season.”

Everton will aim to stretch their unbeaten start to the campaign when Huddersfield Town visit Goodison Park next week.

The Blues then host West Ham following the international break before an away fixture at Walcott’s former club Arsenal.

Walcott cannot wait to get stuck into the challenges ahead – and is not getting caught up worrying about whether they will involve playing in England’s matches against Spain and Switzerland next month.

“I enjoy playing football and playing for the fans who have travelled so far to Bournemouth," he added.

"You have to train the way you play. We are learning what the manager is trying to bring to the team but it’s a positive structure within the whole group. The boss and his backroom staff are very positive.

“You are always going to be judged on goals and assists, so I’m pleased with the way I have started out.

"I had pretty much no pre-season because of an ankle injury, so I’ve had to get straight back into it. It’s going very well personally – I’ve got to keep that up and see where it takes me."

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