By Nick Teale

Theo Walcott says a full pre-season and hard work on the training ground could make the difference for him this season.

Last summer the striker's preparations were hampered by injury and, as a result, he did not make his first appearance until October. 

However this year Walcott had a productive July, and the 21-year-old hopes that will make the difference to his season.

"I've had a very good pre-season," he reflected. "Not just me but the whole team. We are undefeated and I had a nice break, mentally, through the summer so I could think about things and I'm pushing on now.

"Pre-season is massive. I've been very unlucky with injuries last season. I'm 21 so I want to play games every week now, so it's a big season for me.

"I'm looking out for myself a bit more now - I'm one of the last to leave, I'm always staying behind now after training, practising things; crosses and set pieces and things like that. 

"It's down to me, so I'll look after myself and I'm raring to go now."

After collecting the matchball following his hat-trick in Saturday's 6-0 victory over Blackpool, the Englishman asked his team-mates to sign the souvenir of his treble.

"It's a nice little thing I always do and hopefully there will be more to come," he said.

"I went off and [at the end of the game] I was trying to find the ball and one of the ballboys had it. But I nearly forgot to be honest."

"Scoring a hat-trick feels brilliant but the most important thing is that we got a win today and a clean sheet. 

"It was a good result against Liverpool and Saturday, being the first game at home, was a big stepping stone and I think we need to push on from this result."

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23 Aug 2010