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- Long before Daniel Welbeck made his senior debut for Manchester United he had already made a name for himself at Old Trafford with some impressive performances for the youth academy and reserve teams. His seven goals in 11 starts for the reserves in the 2007/08 season left many fans calling for manager Sir Alex Ferguson to grant the youngster a first team debut. Ferguson - an expert in nurturing young talent - was suitably impressed, comparing the 18-year-old to Portsmouth striker Nwankwo Kanu due to his natural ability on the ball. After making his first appearance for the senior team in the Carling Cup against Middlesbrough in September 2008, Welbeck finally made his long awaited Premier League debut bagging a spectacular long range goal in a 5-0 rout of Stoke at Old Trafford. Since then, despite his chances being limited by the arrivals of Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen, Welbeck has put in a number of strong performances for United and is definitely one to watch for the future. Born and raised in Longsight, Manchester, Welbeck is a fan favourite. United haven’t seen a youth team forward break into the first team since Mark Hughes first appeared on the scene in 1983, so the burden of expectation is massive. He is a player with pace, a fierce shot, strength and excellent heading ability and since making his debut he has scored three goals for United in 13 appearances, including two FA Cup goals. However, although he is clearly a promising young player with an impressive record at youth level, his initial impact has not been as impressive as that of some of his team-mates, so it is important to put his talent into perspective. He is not as developed as Owen or Wayne Rooney were at his age and it is very difficult to predict how his career will evolve in the coming years. In the past many English forwards have been tipped for the top and have subsequently faded into obscurity. The likes of Danny Cadermateri and Malcolm Christie have developed into nothing but the answers to obscure pub quiz questions and there is nothing to say that Welbeck won’t suffer a similar fate. Despite this he can consider himself lucky that he has Ferguson to guide him, one of the best in the game at ensuring that young players fulfil their potential. Welbeck has a wealth of international experience at youth level, scoring for the Under-17 team at the 2007 World Championships in Korea and starring for the Under-19 team at the 2009 European Championships. At United he faces the unenviable task of competing with the likes of Rooney and Berbatov for the role of first-team striker, however given a few years experience it is conceivable that he could play a starring role for an England side lacking in talented young strikers. Welbeck does not currently have enough experience to be considered for England selection any time soon and whilst this has not prevented England managers in the past, (most notably Sven-Göran Eriksson’s decision to select Theo Walcott for the 2006 World Cup) it is unlikely that Fabio Capello will take a similar gamble on the youngster. Given the tough competition at United Welbeck might benefit from being loaned out to another Premier League side in the near future. Regular football could be all that is stopping him from repeating his youth level feats at the top level. Earlier in the year Welbeck made his England Under-21 debut as a substitute against Ecuador and his continued participation in the team will play an important role in his future development. Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce clearly recognises his potential, playing him in two games since February and naming him in his original 23-man squad for the 2009 European Championships. Although injury prevented him from playing at the Championships, at only 18 he will almost certainly be a part of the team for a number of years to come. While at United he must ensure that he makes the most of training with experienced veterans like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Yet for all his promise, as a striker he will inevitably be judged on his goals and he must ensure that he continues to prove his goalscoring ability in the Premier League. In short, Daniel Welbeck has a tough task ahead of him if he is to become an England star but his mission is a simple one - get regular football and score plenty of goals.