Poll - England v Switzerland: Welbeck is eager to call shots by playing in centre

England manager Roy Hodgson gives out instructions to Danny WelbeckEngland manager Roy Hodgson gives out instructions to Danny Welbeck
England manager Roy Hodgson gives out instructions to Danny Welbeck
Danny Welbeck thinks England’s dire World Cup campaign will drive them on to success over the next two years.

For many years England have prided themselves on their fanatical support, but interest in the national side is at its lowest point for a long time following their winless showing in Brazil.

Roy Hodgson’s team were condemned to their fastest World Cup exit after they lost their first two matches, and then went on to draw their dead rubber against Costa Rica.

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For Welbeck, the bitter taste that followed England’s killer defeat to Uruguay in Sao Paolo will never leave his mouth.

But the striker knows more than most that crushing defeats can lead to future success.

“After the Uruguay game in the dressing-room, the players felt the disappointment of the nation,” said Arsenal’s new striker.

“It’s one of those moments you will remember forever and you keep it with you.

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“But I have had plenty of those moments in my career, it has only driven me on to do better things.

“I remember when we lost the Premier League on the last day of the season (in 2012) with Manchester United and the manager (Sir Alex Ferguson) told us to never forget that moment.

“The next season we won the league (by 11 points) and it’s something that is always in you that you know what that feeling is like and you don’t want to feel it again.”

Just to make sure he does not forget the feeling of disappointment that followed that night at the Arena Corinthians, Welbeck has kept the No 11 shirt he wore against Uruguay.

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He even took it to St George’s Park with him in the build-up to today’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Switzerland.

“It’s upstairs, do you want it?” he quipped to one reporter at England’s £100m training base on Friday.

The 23-year-old cut an excited, confident figure as he spoke to the media ahead of the game in Basle. His enthusiasm may have come as a result of the £16m move to Arsenal secured last Monday.

The fact that he will be wearing the No 9 in Switzerland, rather than 11, probably had something to do with it too.

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Daniel Sturridge’s withdrawal through injury means Welbeck is expected to start up front alongside captain Wayne Rooney at 
St Jakob-Park.

Hodgson, sitting alongside Welbeck, said: “From the first period I came into contact with him, I thought that centre-forward is his best position.”

Welbeck, who moved to 
Arsenal partly because he became frustrated at playing out wide, agrees with the England manager.

“It’s up to the manager, but I prefer to play as a centre-forward,” said Welbeck, who has scored eight goals in 27 matches for England.

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“When I have been away with England and have been a bit further up the pitch it has been a bit better for me. I’ve never had the opportunity to get a constant run of games as a No 9 but I have got faith in my ability.”

Welbeck struggled to hold down a regular place in the United team since Sir Alex departed, but he has been a regular starter for England under Hodgson.

Welbeck therefore feels he owes a debt of gratitude to the former Fulham manager, who has come in for a lot of criticism of late.

“It’s been pleasing to be picked in every squad, it really gives you motivation to do your best in every training session, every day,” said Welbeck, who impressed when he came off the bench in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Norway.

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Welbeck hopes to repay Hodgson by helping him get England back on track following their disappointing World Cup.

Despite collecting just one point from three matches in Brazil, Welbeck does not think England are too far away from the best teams in the world.

“I don’t think we got bullied or obliterated at the World Cup,” Welbeck said. “The two results didn’t go our way.

“We have got a lot of talent in the squad, all over the pitch.”

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Victory in Basle will help prove Welbeck is not just blowing hot air.

“We have got to get off to a good start,” he said.

England captain Rooney, meanwhile, feels if Welbeck can get a run as Arsenal’s main striker it can only boost hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016.

Welbeck joined the Gunners following the arrival at Old Trafford of Colombia forward Radamel Falcao from Monaco.

The 23-year-old could well be handed a preferred central role in leading Arsenal’s attack following the foot injury to Olivier Giroud, which is expected to sideline the France international until January.

“Danny is a lively player, an impact player,” said Rooney.

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“He is quick, he can score goals and I am sure with him getting the move to Arsenal, hopefully he can play up front for Arsenal, that will really help him with England.

“He is a Manchester lad and I spoke to him a few times; it was a really tough decision for him to move, but for his professional career, he felt he had to.”