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Danny Welbeck makes a good case for selection ahead of World Cup

With David Beckham’s England goal tally in his sights, Danny Welbeck is a vital attacking asset for this tournament.

England Media Access
Danny Welbeck proves to be a vital asset to Gareth Southgate.
Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

It’s certainly a surprising stat to see the top goal scorer in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad is our very own Danny Welbeck. With 16 goals from 39 international appearances, he sits just one goal behind David Beckham’s tally. While obviously not like-for-like players, it’s still an impressive feat that Welbeck will be using to build confidence ahead of the World Cup.

“Everybody watched David Beckham growing up, it’s nice to hear I’m one away,” Welbeck told reporters.

“I’m looking forward to achieving that but I don’t want to rest on my laurels, I want to keep improving.

“He was such an inspiration for players all around the world.”

While he has never been a prolific scorer for Arsenal—mainly due to terrible luck with injuries—he is relishing his time with the Three Lions. Although his inclusion in Southgate’s side of 23 was met with criticism from fans, it was most likely his international conversion rate that warranted his position.

He will be struggling for a starting berth, however, as Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are clearly more prolific club scorers; they scored 30 and 20 Premier League goals respectively last season, compared to Welbeck’s five. Nevertheless, Welbeck certainly stated his case off the bench against Costa Rica last Friday with a 76th minute goal that rubber stamped the match. Amazingly, this goal marked his eighth goal in his last 12 appearances for England.

20-year-old Marcus Rashford was the clear standout in the friendly against Costa Rica. While Rashford will have to compete with in-favour Raheem Sterling for a starting position, it could be argued that he and Welbeck could be the next-best attacking pair in their respective positions. Against Costa Rica, Southgate instructed Rashford to play with “complete freedom” and encouraged link-up play with strikers, which is arguably suited better to Welbeck rather than Vardy, who is thought to be ahead of the Gunner in the pecking order.

Welbeck has certainly justified his position in this World Cup side, and he claims previous injury setbacks have only made him stronger for England. He, sadly, missed out on the 2016 Euro with a serious knee injury, as well as countless months of Premier League action with other nagging injuries, meaning he will be hungrier than ever to play good football.

“Missing out on the last tournament with injury was frustrating for me,” he said.

“If you get a big injury, it is not easy at all to deal with it. It’s a lonely period when you’re not out on the pitch helping your team-mates and doing what you love doing.

“But there are things you can take from it, learn from it, learn about yourself. You can develop mentally when you away from the pitch.

“You can take all that frustration, pain and hurt from not playing football and try and use that as a way of helping you and reminding you of what you are missing out on.”