Welbeck backs Rooney to star
7:11pm Monday 16th June 2014 in © Press Association 2014
The calls for Wayne Rooney to be dropped may be growing but they are falling on deaf ears inside the England camp, with Danny Welbeck backing his team-mate to make a difference wherever he is deployed.
Roy Hodgson's side earned much praise, albeit no points, with their display in Saturday's entertaining 2-1 defeat to Italy in the difficult conditions of Manaus.
England's attack was widely and deservedly praised by onlookers, but Rooney's performance was muted compared to the rest of the front four.
Starting in an unfavoured left role, he provided a fine assist but looked uncomfortable at times, leading some to propose that he should be dropped for the must-win clash against Uruguay - a suggestion put to England and Manchester United team-mate Welbeck.
"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," the striker said.
"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."
The question of whether Rooney can make the same impact when deployed on the flank, though, is a key one.
"Wayne is experienced," Welbeck said when asked if playing out of position was getting to him. "He can pretty much handle any situation. He has been through a lot in his career.
"You say he is playing out of position, but he has played there plenty of times for Manchester United as well.
"He has not just played there in the Premier League, but the Champions League semi-final and final so he is accustomed to that position and can play it well."
Like Rooney, Welbeck is also having to play away from his preferred position for the greater good, with the Manchester United attacker starting on the right in Manaus before swapping to the left flank at half-time.
"Just being on the pitch, wherever I am in an attacking position, I will do my best," he said.
"I think I can make an impact from the flanks or down the centre. Obviously I would prefer to play down the centre, but it is the manager who picks the team.
"If I am playing on the left, on the right or through the middle, I am just going to give it the best shot possible."
The forward is likely to start on the flanks again when England travel to Sao Paulo to take on Uruguay on Thursday.
The loser will all but certainly see their hopes of making it out of Group D extinguished, with Welbeck calling this a time "to play well and win" following the promising performance against Italy.
"We have got to be positive going into the game," he said. "Everyone is excited and obviously we can take the positives from the last game.
"But ultimately, at the end of the day, we didn't win and that is the most important thing.
"We need the three points to obviously succeed in getting to the next round."
Welbeck was "a bit surprised" to see Uruguay fall to a 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica in their opener.
Star man Luis Suarez was an unused substitute as he continues his return from a knee injury and will no doubt be targeting a start against England.
Suggested it would be best if Suarez could not make it, Welbeck said with a laugh: "You never know.
"He obviously might not be 100 per cent, he might not play but our aim is to focus on Uruguay as a team and not on an individual player."