Theo Walcott hopes to be back on the pitch in "a matter of weeks" and believes he will be stronger and quicker than ever.

The Arsenal forward has been sidelined since January 4 after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee towards the end of the FA Cup third-round victory over Tottenham.

Walcott took the setback in his stride and has worked hard throughout his rehabilitation to build up his strength. Far from feeling down, the 25-year-old remains philosophical about his enforced absence.

"Life's been very good actually," Walcott told Arsenal.com. "I know it's a bit different to say that, and of course injuries always get people down, but the way I look at it, is you can't change the fact that you're injured.

It's given me the opportunity to work on my legs and build up the muscle strength. If anything, I hope to come back stronger and quicker

"You've just got to look forward to the rehab and work as hard as you can. There have been a lot of long days in rehab and being in over summer when there weren’t any other players at the training ground, but a positive for me is that I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my family, because during a normal season, we're away and in hotels for long periods of time.

"The time has seemed to fly by and there have been other things going on in my life, like a new baby boy, which makes time go quickly. It's a cliche but it's true.

"I knew how long the rehab would be, it was always going to be around nine months. But I approached it that I had to enjoy it, and that’s what I have done, it's given me the opportunity to work on my legs and build up the muscle strength. If anything, I hope to come back stronger and quicker."

Walcott may feature for Arsenal Under-21s before returning to the first-team squad - and he will have plenty of people to thank for getting him back on the pitch.

"We’re not setting specific comeback matches, but I’m just pleased it’s hopefully now only a matter of weeks before I’ll be back playing," he said.

"There may be one or two under-21s matches I’ll be involved in first. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and playing again.

"Everyone has been so good with me - the Arsenal medical team, the Arsenal fans, and of course my family. Everyone has worked so hard and have been so supportive towards me. And now I'm coming to the end of my rehab, I just can't thank everyone enough."

Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott

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Chris Harris 9 Sep 2014