DANNY Welbeck has underlined how important his England U21 future is to him, despite having to pull out of tonight’s game against Iceland U21s at Preston.
Over the weekend, Welbeck and team-mate Jordan Henderson both returned to Sunderland having helped steer the junior national side to an emphatic 4-0 victory over Denmark U21s in Denmark – manager Stuart Pearce deciding not to over-extend either player, with Welbeck coming back from injury and Henderson having played every league game this season.
Welbeck, though, says he does not take his international honours lightly.
The on-loan Manchester United striker who, along with Henderson, scored in Denmark, told the Echo: “I enjoy being part of the England Under 21s and I don’t like missing games.
“It is fantastic to get picked for your country at any level and pulling on the Three Lions shirt means a lot to me. I’m at the stage of my career where I’m trying to make a name for myself.
“Coming to Sunderland this season is part of that and playing for the England Under 21s is another part of that – my performances for England Under 21s actually helped me get noticed in the first place.
“Hopefully, now that I’m back from injury I can have a good finish to the season and do well with Sunderland before rounding it off with a good tournament with England U21s in the Euros.”
Welbeck has scored three goals in 10 appearances for the U21s and six goals for Sunderland in 21 appearances and wants to find the sort of purple patch of form he was in just before he was crocked at Villa Park on January 5.
The European U21 championships are held in Denmark in June.
He said:”It was unfortunate that I should do my hamstring at Aston Villa and then find that the knee really required surgery because I was in great form at the time and really enjoying my time.
“Things had just clicked for me and I was scoring goals and felt I was playing well, so the injury couldn’t really have come at a worse time.
“But at the moment I’m getting fitter and shaper by the day and the good thing was that at least I wasn’t out for too long and had to start all over again.
“It’s great to be back and I want to have as much impact as I can now in the months ahead, both for Sunderland and for England.”