Theo Walcott has revealed he is on course to make a return from his anterior cruciate ligament injury "early next season".

The England forward's season was cut short back in January, when he was stretchered off during the 2-0 FA Cup third-round win over Tottenham at Emirates Stadium.

Since then Walcott has undergone an intensive rehabilitation programme, and can now see light at the end of the tunnel, though he confirmed the World Cup will come too early for him.

"I'm not pushing myself to be fit for the World Cup or anything like that," Walcott told the official matchday programme. "I want to be back quickly of course, but safely too.

It's nearly been four months now and my recovery has gone on track so far

"I want to try and be back for the early part of next season. That's the goal so there will be a lot of hard work throughout the summer and during the World Cup."

The 25-year-old has already carried out a huge amount of work with the Arsenal medical staff, and he says he's managed to stay positive throughout his enforced lay-off.

"It's nearly been four months now and my recovery has gone on track so far," said Walcott. "At the moment, I'm working on muscle strength and building muscle in my quad. I've got a lot of the flexion back and I'm always working on extension.

"A lot of the days are very similar but the four months have gone really quickly. I don't see any point in being down in the dumps about the injury because it’s already happened and there are a lot of people with worse problems in the world.

"I'll just get on with my work - I'm first in and last out on most days. I see the consultant soon too and hopefully he'll give me the thumbs-up to push on even more. I'd love to be running in a few weeks."

During his lay-off Walcott also became a father for the first time, when his wife Mel gave birth to Finley. Fatherhood has proved to be a happy distraction.

"Yes, that kept me going," he said. "A lot of people miss the early stages of the lives of their children and I'm not going to miss that at all. That's a massive boost - it's a silver lining and it keeps me going.

"It's nice to be around because, a lot of the time, players are alone in hotel rooms so it will be nice for me to see Finley and spend a lot of time with him."

Matchday Programme

Read the full interview in the official matchday programme

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source Josh James 28 Apr 2014