sport

Rooney hails Welbeck contribution

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has defended team-mate Danny Welbeck against accusations that he does not score enough goals.

After a slow start to the season, Rooney's rich vein of form continued against Fulham on Saturday, when he notched his 13th goal of the campaign to seal a 1-0 away win at Craven Cottage.

It means Rooney now has 10 goals in 10 games and, with Manchester City failing to beat Liverpool on Sunday, the Red Devils now have a nine-point advantage at the top of the Premier League table.

Yet manager Sir Alex Ferguson has still found himself having to fend off criticism of certain players.

On Friday the Scot got notably irritable when he was questioned about the fact Welbeck has only netted once this term, pointing out a lack of goalscoring from centre-backs Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in comparison.

Welbeck did finish 2012 as top England scorer with five goals, although Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson has also indicated he needs to increase his output in order to reach his full potential.

But, with Robin van Persie enjoying such a superb debut campaign at Old Trafford, 22-year-old Welbeck has not had that many opportunities in his favoured central striking role.

And Rooney has now stated his backing for Welbeck, who will also be a team-mate for England's friendly against Brazil at Wembley on Wednesday, when - with Tottenham's Jermain Defoe injured and Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge unlikely to be fit either - the pair could be joined together in attack.

"Everyone labels him as a striker, which I have had at times when I have played in different positions," Rooney said.

"Then someone says I haven't scored for eight games when I hadn't played up front. Danny has been out wide a lot this season. He works hard and brings a lot of energy to the team.

"He is a great player and his time will come when he gets that run up front. Then I am sure then he will score goals."