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The former Red Devils have hailed the impact that the English striker has made since returning from Sunderland, noting his importance in the absence of Javier Hernandez

Manchester United legends Andy Cole and Paddy Crerand have hailed the recent performances of Danny Welbeck, claiming that he has been crucial to the club this season.

Since making his return from a loan spell at Sunderland, the 21-year-old has impressed at Old Trafford, scoring a total of nine goals in all competitions, including strikes against rivals Manchester City and Arsenal.

Cole, who notched 121 times in a United shirt, expressed his belief that Welbeck’s return has been made more important by the injuries picked up by Javier Hernandez this season.

"I think Danny’s brilliant, and it's fantastic for his confidence that he’s starting so many big games," Cole explained to the club’s official website.

"Javier Hernandez has been injured and has been finding it tough to repeat what he did in his first season. Sometimes your second season is your toughest, I went through that myself.

"Danny has come in and grabbed his chance with both hands and he's playing very well. He's playing with confidence and getting goals too.

"You might say I was a bit of an old-fashioned centre forward when I played, in that I always wanted to try and run in behind defenders and get chances that way. To see Danny doing that is great.

"He can play in front of defenders as well, but when he runs in behind them he causes a lot of problems."

Crerand, who represented the club over 300 times between 1963 and 1971, echoed Cole’s praise, observing that the young striker’s performances in big games is a testament to the belief shown in him by manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

"He's been terrific, Danny Welbeck, he's coming on," the 72-year-old stated.

"He's still a young kid learning the game but he's getting better.

"I don't think he's fully grown yet either. With his effort that was cleared off the line [by Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker on Sunday], I'm not sure whether he clipped his own heel or not but if that hadn't happened, the ball certainly would have ended up in the back of the net.

"The manager has shown the great faith he has in Danny by playing him."

Welbeck's next chance to impress the Old Trafford faithful may come on Saturday when his side travel to Anfield to face Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round.

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