Theo Walcott inspired to reach World Cup by Brazilian youngsters

Theo Walcott

Brazil v England

Maracana Stadium
Sunday, 2 June
20:00 BST
Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and text commentary on BBC Sport website

England's Theo Walcott says the dazzling skills of Brazil's children have left him even more determined to reach next summer's World Cup.

Walcott was part of the England squad that worked out on Rio's Copacabana Beach as they prepare for Sunday's friendly with Brazil in the Maracana.

He said: "Seeing some of the kids who were six or seven using the shoulders to play beach volley was amazing.

"I can't do that so it showed that technically they have got it here."

Walcott, 24, added: "It is going to be spectacular just to be out here in Brazil itself and to experience different parts of Brazil.

"Hopefully we can come out here again and show our stuff on the pitch. First of all we have to do the job on Sunday."

The Arsenal star was among an England delegation that paid a visit to Rio's Sport Relief-funded Bola Pra Frente project which uses sport to engage and educate youngsters from some of the city's most disadvantaged communities.

He said: "As soon as you come here you realise just what a football place it is. Events like this project, encouraging youngsters who maybe haven't had the best backgrounds to educate themselves using football, is great. Football is massive in Brazil, like everywhere else, and we definitely want to be part of it next year."

England were criticised after Wednesday's 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland at Wembley, with former striker Gary Lineker claiming manager Roy Hodgson's 4-4-2 formation was a return to "the dark ages".

Walcott, who was part of the England team that beat Brazil in a friendly at Wembley in February, said: "Technically Brazil are better than Ireland. Going forward we have some tough qualifying matches but we want to be here next year - no doubt about it. It wouldn't be right if we weren't here.

"We all know our job and what we need to do now. The performance has to be slightly better but I didn't think it was the end of the world the other day."

Meanwhile, Danny Welbeck sat out the main part of England training on Friday, raising fears the striker would not be fit for Sunday's game.

The Manchester United striker took part in the warm-up part of Friday's get-together, which took place at the Urca military base in Rio, but he sat out the rest of the hour-long open session.

Welbeck did not come off the bench in Wednesday's friendly against Republic of Ireland because of a knee injury.

Fellow striker Jermain Defoe is carrying an Achilles problem but he took part in the entire session.