Welbeck backs Ferdinand to return

Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck has dismissed claims that Rio Ferdinand’s international career is over, and feels the veteran still has what it takes to play at the highest level.

The former England captain has been left out of Fabio Capello’s squad to face Montenegro in Podgorica on Friday, with injury concerns restricting his time on the pitch this season.

With the emergence of younger alternatives at Old Trafford such as Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, the press have questioned Ferdinand’s role with club and country.

Despite this, Welbeck has jumped to Ferdinand’s defence.

“That’s not for me to say, but we all know what capabilities Rio has got,” he told Sky Sports.

“He is a great reader of the game and to me he is like a Rolls-Royce of a defender. It is wrong to write him off because he is a great defender.”

24-year-old Welbeck may well be in line to feature in the crucial Euro 2012 qualifier, and is happy to be included in a competitive squad.

“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s exciting times, obviously to be involved in my first competitive game. I’m delighted,” he stated

“There is great competition throughout the whole nation. You come here to train with the best players and to hopefully be involved in Friday’s game.

“But we have got great talent all over the squad and there are players who aren’t even here that have got great talent as well. So just to be in the 24-man squad, I’m delighted with that,” Welbeck said.

In such an important game it will be a fight between a number of strikers to partner in-form Wayne Rooney in attack, and Welbeck has praised his United team-mate.

“He has been on fire. He has started the season scoring goals and creating goals as well. He has been a great team player as well.

“So just to be playing with him and obviously training with him every single day is just a bonus and I am going to learn from him, try and pick up as much as I can and take it from there,” he concluded.

England go into the game knowing that a draw will be enough to ensure participation in Poland and Ukraine next year.

By Gareth McKnight