After scoring both goals in England’s 2-0 win in Switzerland, Danny Welbeck hopes to be given a central attacking role in the future.
It is fair to say optimism wasn’t entirely high ahead of the potentially tricky trip to Basle, which came on the back of the uninspiring 1-0 friendly win over Norway last week. More to the point, the dismal World Cup showing in the summer, in which Roy Hodgson’s side crashed out without winning a single match, is also fresh in the memory.
And the opposition on Monday night, Switzerland are currently ranked as the world’s ninth best nation side by FIFA, provided England with the sternest test they are likely to face in qualifying for Euro 2016. But the visitors put in a pleasantly surprising performance, which will mostly be remembered for Welbeck and his two second-half goals.
The 23-year-old, who recently left boyhood club Manchester United for Arsenal, scored the first as a result of a brilliant counter-attack, and then wrapped up the points in injury time. The £16million-man has talked about how he hopes to be given a central striker role for the Gunners, and he has now revealed the same ambition at international level.
“I think the whole team is smiling,” Welbeck said. “I enjoy playing further up the pitch. That’s well known and when I get my opportunity I am just looking to take it. Thankfully I got the two goals, but it is credit to the whole team really with the way we played, the way we attacked. It was the perfect start to the qualifiers, but we need to carry this on now and make sure we prepare for every single game tactically and mentally.”
Welbeck now has a credible 10 goals from 28 caps, and if he is given the chance to play as a striker, he will likely fancy his chances of adding to this total during the remaining Group E matches, which include the home leg against the Swiss and double-headers with Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia and San Marino, all of whom are certainly beatable.
Aside from the new Arsenal man, there were good performances throughout the England side. Gary Cahill, the Chelsea defender, was particularly impressive, especially when clearing a shot off the line at 1-0. Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, so often under the microscope when on international duty, produced a couple of important saves, and Fabian Delph, the Aston Villa midfielder, made a good impression.
England: Hart, Stones, Baines, Cahill, Jones (Jagielka 77), Henderson, Delph, Sterling, Wilshere (Milner 73), Rooney (Lambert 90), Welbeck
Is this the start of something good for England, or is it merely another false dawn? Let us know what you think by joining in the discussion below!