England 2014 World Cup plan won’t work without Welbeck


England remain at 25/1 odds in the 2014 World Cup outright betting market with Coral, after a disappointing 1-0 home loss against an under-strength Germany side.

Coupled with the 2-0 defeat against Chile, England have now lost two games in a row at Wembley for the first time since 1977 and are likely to remain friendless among punters for success in Brazil next summer.

However, the Three Lions form in qualifying – where they went unbeaten over ten games and scored 31 goals for the concession of just four strikes in reply – should not be overlooked in haste.

Roy Hodgson has one more friendly match before announcing his 2014 World Cup squad to get his team firing, against Denmark at Wembley in March.

If the last two defeats have taught the 66-year-old just one thing it should be that Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck is vital to his country’s success and has to be played on the left-wing against the Danes.

The 22-year-old is rated as an outsider by Coral at 6/5 to start England’s first game at the 2014 World Cup, but their recent record with Welbeck involved is too good to ignore.

Since the start of this season, the forward has missed three of England’s seven games through injury or suspension and they have failed to win any of those matches.

With Welbeck in the side, the Three Lions came from behind to beat Scotland 3-2 in a friendly before taking care of Moldova, Montenegro and Poland in Group H to seal qualification for next summer’s jamboree.

The Red Devils star scored three times against the Scots and Moldova and linked up brilliantly with strikers Daniel Sturridge and clubmate Wayne Rooney in England’s last two qualifiers, directly contributing to two of their four goals against Montenegro at Wembley.

Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez replaced Welbeck on the left wing for the match against Chile, but did very little to suggest he is worthy of another call-up any time soon.

Andros Townsend was then switched from the right to fill in there against Germany and for all the Spurs man’s penetrative runs, his distribution was distinctly lacking at times.

Both Townsend and fellow north London wideman Theo Walcott are shorter prices than Welbeck to start England’s first game in Brazil, at even money and 4/6 respectively.

However, both of those players ply their trade almost exclusively on the right wing for their clubs and Walcott is far from assured his place having missed most of the season so far with an abdominal injury.

He could return for Arsenal against Southampton – with the Gunners 8/13 favourites to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League with another win at the Emirates – but the 24-year-old’s spot in the England first-team is surely under threat from Townsend after the Spurs man’s recent performances.

With Welbeck also set to return for Man Utd against Cardiff this weekend, the race to stay in Hodgson’s thinking is sure to be fiercely contested all the way until June.

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