ENGLAND forward Theo Walcott believes Roy Hodgson’s side are on course to mount a serious bid for the tag of the continent’s finest at next year’s European Championships in France.
Walcott climbed off the bench to score twice as England thrashed San Marino 6-0 in Serravalle on Saturday to become the first nation to qualify for next summer’s finals.
Victory maintained England’s perfect qualifying record, which stands at seven victories, while the Three Lions are unbeaten in 11 matches in total since their disastrous World Cup campaign in Brazil last year.
“It’ll definitely be a big achievement if we can go far. I am sure that we can,” said Walcott. “The manager has got that in our system, that he believes in us. The belief is there, the confidence is there, so why not?
“I think this team is getting better and better, and that’s what we want to do going into the tournament next year. We’ve gone a long way towards that, so I am sure things are going to improve.
“There are big tests for us, but I believe in that dressing room and in the way we are playing as well. We are playing in the best league in the world, we’re improving every day, the players are playing at the top of their game.”
Skipper Wayne Rooney netted his 49th international strike courtesy of an early penalty against the San Marinese, drawing level with England’s record goalscorer, Sir Bobby Charlton .
He was denied the chance to surpass Charlton’s record by Hodgson, who substituted Rooney in the 58th minute, although opportunity knocks again tomorrow evening when England entertain Switzerland at Wembley.
“What can you say? Wayne has been doing it for years,” added Walcott. “It just shows how established he is as an England international and a Manchester United player.
“He is so good in the dressing room, he is a winner. In training, he always wants to win – never wants to lose.
“He just wants to improve and improve this team. He has that belief in this dressing room that this young talent can actually go on and do something special and I believe that too.”
Walcott’s double strike took his England tally to seven in 41 appearances, while the 26-year-old hopes his goalscoring antics might prompt Hodgson to hand him a starting berth against the Swiss, as preparations for Euro 2016 begin to intensify.
“It is always lovely to score for your national team,” said Walcott. “I want to be able to do that on a starting level next time.”