Danny Welbeck is setting his sights on going past David Beckham in England’s scoring charts after underlining his international credentials against Costa Rica.
Arsenal forward Welbeck has never been a prolific scorer at club level but boasts an impressive return for the Three Lions, heading home his 16th goal in 39 appearances during Thursday’s 2-0 friendly win at Elland Road.
That makes him the top scorer in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup-bound squad – three ahead of Harry Kane – and within one goal of matching Beckham’s career tally.
Beckham was in his prime at Manchester United when Welbeck came through the Old Trafford youth set-up, making him a particularly notable target.
“Everybody watched David Beckham growing up, it’s nice to hear I’m one away,” he said.
“Obviously I want to keep on getting more game time for England and scoring more goals. I’m looking forward to achieving that but I don’t want to rest on my laurels, I want to keep improving.
“My most outstanding moments watching England were Michael Owen’s goal (against Argentina) in ’98 and Beckham’s free-kick against Greece at Old Trafford. He was such an inspiration for players all around the world.”
Welbeck was the only outfield player in Southgate’s 23-man squad who did not start against Nigeria or Costa Rica, though he did come off the bench in both games.
Nevertheless he faces a battle on his hands to break into the side in Russia.
Captain Harry Kane is inked in at centre-forward, Marcus Rashford’s blockbuster strike on Thursday did his cause no harm at all and Jamie Vardy’s pace offers another option.
Welbeck is happy to be judged against a high bar and is ready to make a difference if called upon.
“Marcus scored a hell of a goal and Vards was dangerous through the whole game, there’s a lot of competition in the squad,” said the 27-year-old.
“But I have a good record scoring goals for England. I’ll always make those runs and be there to try and stick it in the back of the net.
“That healthy competition ups everyone’s game. Every time we meet up with the squad there’s great camaraderie, it’s a very enjoyable environment to be in and I’m really excited for the coming weeks.”