Welbeck backs Rooney

Danny Welbeck has backed Wayne Rooney to cope with the pressure of competing in a World Cup and play a key role in England’s next two matches.

Rooney – despite scoring 16 goals in 22 qualifying games over three campaigns – is yet to record a goal in nine appearances at the World Cup Finals, but his Manchester United teammate insisted he has the ability, versatility and strength of character to prove his critics wrong.

Welbeck said: “Wayne can handle any situation. He has been through a lot in his career and has played there [on the left] a lot for Manchester United.

“He is accustomed to that position and plays it very well.”

Uruguay v England

FIFA World Cup Group D 

Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo 

8pm BST, Thursday 19 June 

Live on ITV

Since making his debut against Australia at the age of 17 in February 2003, Rooney has gone on to score 39 goals in 93 internationals  – which puts him fifth on the all-time England top goalscorers list.

And Welbeck said it is this experience and proven track record that could prove pivotal as England prepare for the crucial game against Uruguay on Thursday.

“Wazza is very experienced, when he goes on the pitch he can make a difference,” he added.

England face Uruguay in Sao Paulo on Thursday and Welbeck ended by saying despite suffering a surprise defeat against Costa Rica, the South American side – ranked seventh in the world – will pose a serious threat and that the Three Lions will have to perform at the top of their game if they are to leave with all three points against Oscar Tabarez’s men.

England players congratulate Daniel Sturridge

Welbeck backed Rooney to play a key role against Uruguay and Costa Rica

“We didn’t get to watch the (Uruguay) game as we were preparing for our match but I was surprised when I saw the end result. 

“Anything can happen and Costa Rica played their part very well.

“Going into the next two games it will be very difficult and we have to be very well prepared.”

England take on Uruguay in Sao Paulo on Thursday on 19 June at 8pm BST.

The game is live on ITV and coverage starts at 7pm.