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England striker Welbeck soaking it up

Published: Thursday 14 June 2012, 17.30CET
Danny Welbeck told UEFA.com he was "relishing the opportunity" of being at UEFA EURO 2012 after being handed a starting berth for the opening 1-1 draw against France.
by Andy James
from Krakow
 
Published: Thursday 14 June 2012, 17.30CET

England striker Welbeck soaking it up

Danny Welbeck told UEFA.com he was "relishing the opportunity" of being at UEFA EURO 2012 after being handed a starting berth for the opening 1-1 draw against France.

Danny Welbeck and Jordan Henderson believe England have every reason to be content after kicking off their UEFA EURO 2012 campaign with a 1-1 draw against France.

Both players made their competitive international bows in the Group D opener in Donetsk, where temperatures were a good 10C hotter than the squad have been used to at their training base in Krakow.

"We were satisfied with the result and the performance in the end," Welbeck told UEFA.com. "Going into a tournament you want to win your first game and get off to a good start, but we know that the French are a really good side and they've got some really good players in their team. To get that result in difficult conditions was pretty pleasing and now we're looking forward to Sweden."

Henderson, who came on as a late substitute for Scott Parker in Donetsk, agreed that England "played some good football" and called for continued progress against the Swedes. "Obviously we'll prepare and make sure we do our jobs right on the day, but it's just more of the same really; play some good stuff and hopefully we can take our chances."

The two 21-year-olds have undergone a rapid development over the past 12 months. Just five days shy of a year ago, both Welbeck and Henderson were ruing England's group stage exit at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Denmark.

That day a Welbeck header had looked set to send England into the semi-finals for the third successive edition, but a late Czech Republic comeback instead left them eliminated. It was a bitter experience for both, but a valuable lesson in tournament football which is sure to stand them in good stead as England attempt to escape from Group D.

Henderson was a last-minute addition to Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad after injuries to Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry worked in his favour, but as he told UEFA.com, he has taken the step up in his stride. "It's been fine, to be honest," he said. "You've just got to take it as another game. I've just got to enjoy it and take on the experience."

Meanwhile Welbeck drew much praise for his display at the head of England's attack but insisted he was simply happy to be given the chance in the absence of his club colleague Rooney. "It's exciting times, actually being at a major competition," said the Manchester United FC forward. "I'm just relishing the opportunity."

Victory against Sweden on Friday would go a long way to securing the Three Lions' spot in the quarter-finals. However, Erik Hamrén's side lost their opener 2-1 against co-hosts Ukraine, and Welbeck knows they will be every bit as hungry to claim their first three points at the tournament. "It will be a really good game," he said. "Looking at it from a neutral perspective, it will be fun to watch and I'm just really looking forward to it."

Last updated: 26/10/12 15.18CET

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