Manchester: Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck believes that he can step into Wayne Rooney's shoes for the opening two games at Euro 2012 this summer.
Welbeck and Rooney have struck up a good partnership and understanding up front for United this term and their haul of 36 goals between them was an impressive return on a first full season together.
The 21-year-old star acknowledges that he could not have progressed as far as he has without the help of Rooney, and is reveling in his role alongside him.
“I owe Wayne a lot. He has been a terrific friend and a brilliant help to me. We have really forged a great partnership. And he is amazing during a game. He never stops yapping in my ear, telling me, ‘Daniel this’ and ‘Daniel that’," he was quoted as saying by The Sun.
“Wayne’s funny like that, he calls me Daniel on the pitch, even though most people call me Danny. Yet off the pitch it’s Danny or Welbz. Don’t ask me why. I’m so lucky he wants me to do well and is always trying to advise what’s best for me.
“You can’t buy that sort of insight. He knows what it’s like as a young player coming through in the Premier League and with England. Most people might not see this in him but he’s a real gentleman, too. They only see him on the pitch where he’s always very passionate and a fiery character. But if they could meet him they’d actually find he’s a really nice man.”
England manager Roy Hodgson is expected to experiment with various forward lines in the upcoming game against Norway and Belgium, and Welbeck understands how Rooney's absence could affect the side.
He said: “It’s a massive blow that Wayne is not available for the first two games. If I’m called upon to replace him it will be a real challenge, but I’ll take it in my stride. When I got the text from the FA to say I was in the squad it took a while to sink in. I didn’t ring anyone right away; I just sat on my own taking it all in. But then I went home and enjoyed the moment with my family."
The talented youngster is clearly confident in his own ability and is not fazed by the pressures of delivering the goods for his country.
“I’m the sort who believes if you are good enough, you are old enough. And I won’t be worried or nervous about playing for England in the Euros. It might sound odd but I will try and treat it as just another game, like the hundreds of other games I have played," said Welbeck.
It was actually a tip from United's youth-team coach that Welbeck has taken on board throughout his career and that he hopes will serve him well this summer.
“United’s youth-team coach Paul McGuinness taught me that valuable lesson a long time ago. He was always telling me, ‘Play the game, not the occasion’ and that’s been brilliant advice. So that’s exactly what I’ll be aiming to do for England in the finals,” said Welbeck.