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Richard Jolly profile picture Posted by Richard Jolly
Jun 17, 2014

Welbeck: Rooney can make impact

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti and Craig Burley discuss Wayne Rooney's status in England's starting lineup.

Danny Welbeck has sprung to Wayne Rooney's defence by insisting that his Manchester United and England teammate should not be dropped and by declaring he is an excellent winger.

- Cross: England can take positives

There have been calls for Rooney to be omitted for England's next game, against Uruguay on Thursday, after his display on the left in Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Italy, even though he set up Daniel Sturridge's goal.

Rooney prefers a central role but Welbeck said England's new system gives them the fluidity to swap positions.

And he feels that Rooney, who has scored 39 goals for his country, can make a major impact, even if he is playing on the left.

"First and foremost, Wayne Rooney is a class player and I think wherever he is playing on the pitch he can make a massive impact," Welbeck said at a news conference in Brazil. "I think all the forward players with England have the flexibility to move in and round, interchange positions.

"Obviously Wayne was on the left in the first game and in the second or third game he could be in a different position. Waz is the top all-time scorer for England currently playing, he has got 93 caps and he is very experienced. When he is on the pitch, he can make a difference.

"Wayne can handle any situation. He has been through a lot in his career and has played there [on the left] a lot for Manchester United. He is accustomed to that position and plays it very well. Wazza is very experienced, when he goes on the pitch he can make a difference."

Like Rooney, Welbeck, who began on the right against Italy, would prefer a central role but he added: "I'd prefer to play down the middle, yes, but I'll play left, right, centre on the pitch. The good thing with the forwards we've got, everybody is flexible. We can play in all three positions."

Welbeck himself has only scored once for club or country since January and his former United colleague Rio Ferdinand said the Mancunian needs to take more risks.

And Welbeck said: "I take what Rio says on board. He's seen me grow up and develop from a young kid, from 13. When I got into the first team he spoke to me about what I can do, my strengths and my weaknesses.

"He's helped me a lot as a footballer, and if he's telling me to take more risks I will take more risks. I spoke to him before and after the game, we're in regular contact, and he just wants me to be the best I can."

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