England's Danny Welbeck aims to keep improving as David Beckham's goal record beckons

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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 told Press Association Sport.

“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 of England 1

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.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Chelsea star Eden Hazard takes 'golden generation' dig at England ahead of World Cup

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Eden Hazard stoked Belgium’s rivalry with England ahead of the World Cup by pointing out the failure of the Three Lions’ so-called ‘golden generation’.

Much was expected of England squads of the past, ones that included David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, but success never came.

England’s Group G rivals now have a ‘golden generation’ of their own with Hazard at the forefront alongside the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.

Roberto Martinez’s side are favourites to win the group, which also includes Tunisia and Panama, and are a popular pick to lift the trophy, and Hazard recognises the opportunity in front of them.

“We know what we are,” he said in comments reported by several UK national newspapers. “We are good players, we all play in the big games in England, in Italy, and in Spain.

“Ten years or 15 years ago you had this ‘golden generation’ in England but you won nothing. We have a ‘golden generation’ – we just want to win something now.

“Can we be different to England? Maybe, we will see.”

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Germany are not 'clear favourites' for the World Cup, says 1990 winner Thomas Berthold

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Defending champions: Germany

Germany’s 1990 World Cup winner Thomas Berthold has downplayed their favourites tag, placing Brazil, France and Spain ahead of them for this summer’s showpiece.

The defending champions kick-start their defence against Mexico on June 17 with Joachim Low’s side tipped as one of the nations to reign supreme and become the first country to win back-to-back titles since Brazil in 1958 and 1962.

But Berthold, who is the 10th most-capped German at the three World Cups he’s played in, believes his nation are not the clear favourites.

“When you look back through the history of the World Cup, three nations – Brazil, Italy and us – have won 13 titles between them. I don’t think any other team has reached the semi-finals as often as Germany,” he told FIFA.com

World Cup winner: Thomas Berthold (left)

World Cup winner: Thomas Berthold (left)

“And whenever you reach the last four, there are many factors that you can’t account for, particularly when you go toe-to-toe with other top sides.

“We are not the clear favourites. France, Brazil and Spain are all ahead of us and Argentina are more or less the dark horses of the tournament.”

Germany have also been drawn alongside Korea Republic and Sweden and Berthold believes they must top Group F. “They will need to grit their teeth and focus on the knockout stages. They’ll need to give it their all in the group, and after that it’s a matter of ‘go big or go home’.”

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