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Welbeck confident he can deliver for England

Striker Danny Welbeck wants to get the ball rolling for a hitherto goal-shy England team when they put their survival hopes on the line against the Czech Republic in Viborg on Sunday.

Danny Welbeck thinks his experience can help England negotiate a tricky situation on Sunday
Danny Welbeck thinks his experience can help England negotiate a tricky situation on Sunday ©Getty Images

Whatever the distractions available in their secluded countryside retreat of Borkop, England's players cannot escape the spectre of a must-win game on Sunday.

Pirates of the Caribbean, golf or table tennis will carry the thoughts of Stuart Pearce's men away from their Viborg encounter with the Czech Republic for only so long. Sooner or later minds must return to the job: because only a victory will take England into the semi-finals from a congested Group B.

Striker Danny Welbeck understands the scenario. "It's good to get away from thinking just 'football, football, football', but we know it's a must-win game come Sunday," he told UEFA.com at the team hotel.

If the quest for the elusive fountain of youth dominates the latest adventure for Jack Sparrow and company, England's Young Lions are attempting to add longevity to their UEFA European Under-21 Championship campaign here in Denmark. In this undertaking they will not be – to paraphrase the subtitle of the latest Pirates film – on altogether strange tides.

According to Manchester United FC forward Welbeck, England were in a similar position of no return when they visited Portugal for their penultimate qualifying group match; their ensuing 1-0 victory secured second place ahead of the Portuguese and a play-off against Romania.

"I think quite a few of us have been in this position before, but you can't take it for granted," the 20-year-old Mancunian said. "We have to go into this game not too confident, but not too timidly. We have to go in and play our normal game, get the ball moving, and when we get the chance, score goals. Because I've been through that experience before I can bring that with me. Whoever I face, I know what to do."

While Daniel Sturridge got the all-important strike in Portugal last September, Welbeck has eclipsed his attacking partner by scoring the only England goal of their opening two games in Jutland. His late equaliser on the first matchday against Spain earned Pearce's men a foothold in the group which they maintained in the midweek stalemate with Ukraine.

So, although his side sit third in the section, one point behind the Czechs and two short of Spain, Welbeck remains confident. "I think everyone knows that if we get a chance, we're going to try and put it away," said a player who gobbled up six opportunities in 26 Premier League games while on loan at Sunderland AFC this season. "I don't think we've created as many chances as we would have liked. Hopefully, we can get the ball rolling.

"We know that the Czechs are a big physical side," he continued. "But every team that we play here is tough. They must be, because they've come through two years of qualifying. They've knocked out good teams too – you only have to look at the sides that aren't here, like Germany, France and Italy. We know every game we play will be tough, I'm just really looking forward to it."

Never mind youthful elixirs, Welbeck – who expects to be part of Manchester United's plans next term – simply doesn't want England's tournament to end now he is fit and firing after a mid-season knee injury. "I was hampered by injury but I'm back now and looking forward to playing and pushing on."