Poland (AFP): England winger Theo Walcott has warned his team-mates not to risk playing for a draw against Ukraine as they attempt to book their Euro 2012 quarter-final berth on Tuesday.
Walcott’s dramatic intervention from the substitutes bench in the 3-2 win over Sweden means England need only a point against the co-hosts in Donetsk to be sure of a place in the last eight.
However Walcott, who scored once and set up Danny Welbeck’s winner against Sweden, believes England would be unwise to set out with a negative mindset in their final Group D game.
“You want to play in the massive games. Everyone wants to play, everyone wants to do well,” said Walcott, who could replace James Milner in manager Roy Hodgson’s starting line-up.
“We need a draw to go through but we can’t go into games looking for draws.
“It will be difficult. They are going to have all the support behind them as well. They’ve got nothing to lose, they need to win.
“The attacking play from us was great against Sweden so hopefully it will all come together and we can have a perfect performance.”
The 23-year-old Arsenal star’s goal against Sweden was his first for England since his superb hat-trick as a teenager against Croatia four years ago.
However Walcott, who became the youngest ever England player six years ago when he made his debut at the age of 17 years and 75 days, has rejected suggestions that he has unfulfilled the promise he showed when he first burst onto the scene.
“People say I’ve not kicked on but, being only 23 and with 26 caps under my belt, I’d say it has not been too bad from my point of view,” Walcott said.
“There is still a lot to come but at 23 I’m getting a bit more experienced and I’m featuring in this tournament as well.
“Hopefully there will be a lot more to come from me and I can keep clocking those caps up.
“The goals will always come. I’ve always had that. This season just gone, I’ve scored goals and had assists and that’s what it is about as a winger.
“You are always judged on your stats like that.”
Walcott meanwhile said he is enjoying the rise of Arsenal team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – who like him came through the Southampton youth academy before catching Arsene Wenger’s eye.
The 19-year-old’s meteoric career has been compared to Walcott’s, who believes he has a long future in international football.
“Alex has got four caps and he is clocking those up and at such a young age he is getting great experience at Arsenal which is very important,” he said.
“He is only going to improve and if everyone gets behind him, hopefully we are going to see a lot more of Ox.”
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