WEMBLEY, England (AP) — After a season hampered by injuries and a lack of playing time at Arsenal, Mexico forward Carlos Vela is looking at the World Cup as his chance to shine.
The 21-year-old Vela, who is competing with six other Mexico forwards for a starting position at the tournament in South Africa, is hoping the World Cup will "open doors" for him.
On Monday, Vela failed to convert two one-on-one chances in Mexico's 3-1 loss to England in a friendly, and he said his latest season at Arsenal was tough because of injuries and not having enough opportunities when he was fit.
But Vela is planning to take advantage of Mexico's World Cup warmups to improve. The team has already played nine friendlies this year and faces the Netherlands, Gambia and Italy in its remaining games before taking on South Africa in the opening match of the World Cup on June 11.
"It was difficult for me this year," Vela said. "I didn't have many opportunities when I was fit. Afterward, many injuries didn't allow me to be in good form. But I believe I still have time to get ready."
Vela said his training with Mexico was going well and that the friendlies would allow him to reach the World Cup at his best. The Mexican has made 25 appearances for the national team and scored eight goals.
At Arsenal, Vela's progress has diminished since excelling in the League Cup in 2008-09 during his first season, when he scored four goals, including a hat trick. This past season, he made only 11 league appearances, one as a starter.
And his status at the club came under further threat when manager Arsene Wenger signed striker Marouane Chamakh on Friday.
"I'm only concentrated on playing for Mexico and having a good World Cup, and having a good World Cup can open many doors," Vela said. "If not at Arsenal, we'll see where."