Theo: We can cope without Rooney

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott

First published in International

Theo Walcott is confident England can fill the gap left by Wayne Rooney for the opening two games of Euro 2012 and ensure there is no guarantee he will automatically regain his place.

Rooney will be suspended for the games with France in Donetsk and Sweden in Kiev after his sending-off in the qualifying match with Montenegro in Podgorica.

He will be sorely missed by a squad already lacking several key players through injury but former Saints starlet Walcott has faith in the people available to new head coach Roy Hodgson.

Walcott said: "Wayne is obviously a very important player to the team.

But that's what we have to bounce back from. You need to react from that disappointment.

"He has a two-match ban but the players we have in that dressing room play in the best league in the world as well.

"It's not a hard task for anyone who comes into Wayne's role. You never know, we might keep Wayne out of the team if we do well in the first two games. Only time will tell, we will see."

One player Walcott has faith in to make a favourable impression is his Arsenal team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who made his first start for his country against Belgium at Wembley on Saturday.

Walcott said: "Alex is the sort of person you don't have to give advice to before a game.

"He's a young man, likes to play with no fear, and is very confident.

"If there are people who haven't heard about him before the tournament, they will hear about him afterwards, I'm sure about that."

Walcott replaced his fellow ex-Saint Oxlade-Chamberlain midway through the second half at Wembley and is regaining his fitness after a hamstring injury.

He said: "I had the hamstring problem at the end of the season and I'm starting to ease my way back into it now.

"I'm training hard and I feel great and (am) looking after myself and hopefully I can show a bit more of that in a starting role next time.

"To get any time to play at Wembley in front of the fans is always a positive and you want to try to do something as well and be a threat coming off the bench.

"Hopefully I showed a little bit of that. We are a team playing without any fear and, when players come off the bench, they want to grab that opportunity."

Walcott believes there are encouraging signs under Hodgson although it will take time before England are the finished article.

He said: "We are getting used to way that Roy wants the team to set up and play.

"When you make a lot of changes, you always expect lots of little holes but I don't think that was the case. It's a positive going into the tournament.

"It's always going to take time with a new manager, the way he wants the team to play.

"It will take time but the most important thing is if we go out there in the Euros and perform well and work hard as a team, put in 100% for the fans that travel. That's all that we can ask for."

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