Welback savouring hometown glory for United

Danny Welbeck is living out his dream as a "Manc boy" playing for Manchester United.

After starting last season's Carling Cup final at Wembley and following up by appearing in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Everton, Welbeck seemed to have disappeared off the radar.

In fact, he spent his summer on England Under-19 duty at the European Championships in Ukraine.

Now, he is back at Old Trafford and has wasted no time in making an impact.

It was Welbeck's stylish goal that earned a Carling Cup win over Wolves at Old Trafford last night, part of a fine all-round performance that showed why Sir Alex Ferguson has made the rather outlandish claim that he might end up at the World Cup in South Africa next summer.

For now though, the 18-year-old is making the most of every opportunity that comes his way.

"It gives you a great buzz to hear what the manager said but I am just focusing on Manchester United at the moment," he said.

"I am just like any other normal Manc boy. To be given the chance to play for Manchester United is a dream.

"I just have to carry on training hard to try to get more chances in the first team."

Amid the continuing debate over English clubs' policy of recruiting young players from across Europe and beyond, it is good to know United can still develop youngsters from their own local area.

Like Wes Brown, Welbeck was brought up in the Longsight area of the city, which tends to be more blue than red.

He retains the same aura of normality so, while his talent has been obvious for some time, Welbeck still cannot quite believe he is operating on the same pitch as Michael Owen, who supplied the return pass for his goal.

"It is great playing with Michael," he said.

"You can always learn something from him. His movement is unbelievable.

"When I got the ball for my goal I knew he was round the corner and he knew where I was going next. He played it exactly where I wanted it."

Owen's contribution will have been noted by Sir Alex Ferguson, although whether it gets him a start at Stoke on Saturday remains to be seen.

A more interesting debate surrounds the goalkeeping situation.

The Potters tend to exploit defensive frailties with their fairly predictable style and having lost twice to United last term will be searching for any weakness.

Ben Foster's mistakes against Manchester City on Sunday are bound to have affected the goalkeeper's confidence and Ferguson will know hesitancy can be fatal against such robust opposition.

With Tomasz Kuszczak looking solid on the few occasions he was called upon last night, the United boss might be tempted to stick with the Poland international, who has effectively slipped down to number three in the pecking order given currently injured veteran Edwin van der Sar remains Ferguson's first choice.

Others who played last night will be crossing their fingers, especially Wes Brown, Michael Carrick and Gary Neville, whose combined experience saw United through even though they spent a hour playing with 10 men following the dismissal of Brazilian teenager Fabio Da Silva for a professional foul on Michael Kightly.

"Every competition is important at this club," said Neville.

"We were at Old Trafford, in front of a big crowd. There was no way we could go out and give less than our best.

"For all of us, for many reasons, it was a chance to prove ourselves.

"We have a big squad and it is impossible to play all those players in every match. All you can do is play to your maximum every chance you get."

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