‘It is a massive achievement'

Local lad Danny Welbeck admits he is living the dream at Manchester United. By Simon Stone.

Although Sir Alex Ferguson promised Welbeck he would get an opportunity at United this season after doing so well during last season's loan spell at Sunderland that he broke into the England squad, the striker cannot have expected it to come so soon.

The 20-year-old has followed up his start in the Community Shield by keeping his place for the opening two Barclays English Premier League matches, against West Brom and Tottenham.

He even claimed the Man of the Match prize, steering United towards their 3-0 win by scoring the first and creating the second for Anderson with an impudent back-heel. For a youngster brought up in the heart of Manchester, the Longsight district now-departed Wes Brown also hails from, the experience is proving to be a rich one.

“There is no better feeling for a Manc kid than scoring for United,” he said.

“I want more of it.”

Partly through choice, partly through injuries to Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand that have presented openings, Ferguson ended up with the second-youngest team he has ever selected for a Premier League game on the pitch on that Monday.

Yet the inexperience never showed.

Ashley Young's introduction from Aston Villa has been made far easier by the time spent with Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney on England duty.

For Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones it has merely been an extension of the England Under-21 squad, all of which they were part of during the summer.

The interesting thing now will be to see how many of that quartet are named in Fabio Capello's senior England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Wales next month.

Mentally, there are no doubts over their capability to handle such responsibility, with Welbeck and Cleverley's personal friendship extending back to almost a decade.

“I have been playing with Tom since I was a young kid,” said Welbeck.

“We have a good understanding and once Chris rolled the ball back to him, I knew what kind of area it was going in. Thankfully I got my head on the end of it.

“We have both been at the academy for over 10 years, so to come through and start in the Manchester United first team is a massive achievement.

“We are so grateful to all the coaches we have had throughout the youth system. We will never forget them.”

Now though, they have moved on to a much higher level.

And in assessing a bench that contained Dimitar Berbatov, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and Park Ji-sung at kick-off against Tottenham, they must realise how much faith Ferguson has in them.

“It gives us confidence when the manager picks us,” said Welbeck.

“We have a great squad. There is youth and experience in abundance.

“Whoever is chosen will give it their best shot but Tom and I have shown we will work hard for the team whenever we are chosen.”

The form of Welbeck has certainly given Ferguson a welcome selection headache, and he now has seven strikers to choose from following Javier Hernandez's surprise return as a substitute against Tottenham.

“The horrible part for me now is with having Javier back, what do we do? It is going to be a big problem for me,” admitted Ferguson.

At least one departure looks inevitable before the transfer window closes, and possibly more than that, but Welbeck will certainly not be one of those to be shunted through the exit door.

“Danny is a big, rangy, long-legged boy who can gallop really quickly,” said Ferguson.

“Once he gets his legs going he is quick. He is a good footballer and has a great attitude when he loses the ball.

“He has always had ability but made slow progress because when he was growing he had a bit of a knee growth problem, so we knew we had to wait for him.

“We put him on loan to Sunderland last season and that is when he became a man. He has grown up.

“He is still only 20 years of age and the lad has a great future.”

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