Sturridge calm under pressure

Congleton Guardian: Daniel Sturridge is set to lead England's attack in Brazil Daniel Sturridge is set to lead England's attack in Brazil

Daniel Sturridge insists he will not buckle under the pressure of being England's World Cup number nine.

Sturridge underlined his status as one of Europe's most promising strikers last season when he scored 21 goals in the Barclays Premier League.

The 24-year-old's career has blossomed since he moved to Anfield, where he formed a lethal partnership with top scorer Luis Suarez, but he is yet to repeat that kind of form on the international stage.

Sturridge will be the spearhead of England's attack this summer, just as Alan Shearer and Sir Bobby Charlton were when they wore the famous number nine shirt on their back.

The former Chelsea man only has 10 caps but he is relaxed about leading the line for England in Brazil.

"I don't feel any pressure in terms of the task ahead because I feel that we have prepared for this," said Sturridge, whose three England goals have come against San Marino, Montenegro and Denmark.

"I am excited by it all. When you are young you always want these moments. This is my first World Cup. It's just embracing it all, not about feeling any pressure to do something amazing.

"I just have to play my normal game."

Injury prevented Sturridge from playing alongside Wayne Rooney for a chunk of last season.

But Roy Hodgson will hope the pair hit it off in Friday's friendly versus Peru, and the two other warm-up games that follow against Ecuador and Honduras.

Another option for Hodgson is to play Rooney and Sturridge alongside Manchester United's Danny Welbeck in a three-man attack.

Many England fans remain indifferent about Welbeck despite his record of eight goals in 21 England games.

The forward, who has been deployed in midfield for much of United's last two seasons, thinks the World Cup could be place where he proves he deserves to be recognised as a top-class striker.

"I just want to prove myself to me and to the world," Welbeck said.

"I want to show everyone what I can do. Going into the World Cup is a massive stage and I can't wait to do that."

Welbeck had a stop-start season with United last year, but he still found the net 10 times - a significant improvement on the two he scored the year before - and t he 23-year-old looked in good shape during England's open training session in Vale do Lobo on Wednesday.

Much to his dismay, Rooney was made to sit out the final part of that session as Hodgson does not want to take any risks with the United striker, who ended the season with a groin injury.

Welbeck thinks his United team-mate is champing at the bit to return to action.

He said: "Wayne is a great player for club and country. He is fit and raring to go and we all know what he can produce on the big stages so I am really excited to see him and what he can do for England in a World Cup."

Welbeck, who scored against Sweden in Euro 2012, is looking forward to getting the warm-up games out of the way so he can taste World Cup football for the first time.

"The training sessions have been good," said Welbeck, who made his England debut against Ghana in March 2011.

"Everyone is really excited and they want to make sure they are ready for the World Cup."

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