DANNY WELBECK was only 17 when he began to train with the first-team at Manchester United.
But even at that tender age, ex-Old Trafford team-mate John O’Shea insists there were clear signs that the striker was destined for a bright future.
Former Sunderland loanee Welbeck returns to the Stadium of Light with Arsenal today after netting five goals in eight appearances for the Gunners since his £16million summer move from Man United.
O’Shea didn’t cross paths with Welbeck on Wearside, with the Republic of Ireland international moving to Sunderland in the summer of 2011 after the frontman had completed a season-long stint with the Black Cats which proved definitive in his career development.
But Sunderland skipper O’Shea had trained and played alongside Welbeck in his early years as a professional after he had broken into the first-team set-up under Sir Alex Ferguson.
O’Shea said: “You were well aware of his potential, just because of the type of attitude he had.
“He was one of those that when he did come and train with the first-team, he wasn’t afraid to try anything.
“As well as that, he was harassing defenders as well.
“You could see his attitude was going to take him a long way.”
Sunderland were interested in signing Welbeck on loan during the summer, but the England international headed to the Emirates instead after United accepted what now appears to be a bargain £16m bid.
Welbeck has quickly adapted to life under Arsene Wenger, with the 23-year-old thriving in his favoured central role.
“I know Danny very well and he’s made a quick start to life down at Arsenal,” added O’Shea.
“Playing in a central role, he’s flourished.
“He’s been looking to do that for a long time now.
“But he’s the type of lad whose unselfish and is willing to put the work in for the team.
“He did that at United, whether he was on the left or the right.
“But as you’d expect with the type of players Arsenal have, he’s getting little combination play and he offers that threat in behind too.
“We’re fully aware of his capabilities.”