There has been incredible backlash over the fact Marcus Rashford lost his place in the England squad, despite the fact he is one of the most promising talents in the country. Rashford, who looked like one of England’s only positives in a tumultuous Euro 2016 campaign, was relegated to the Under-21 squad to gain international experience and hopefully force his way into Sam Allardyce’s senior squad.
England’s Under-21 manager, Gareth Southgate, believes the Wythenshawe striker should target a place in England’s squad for the World Cup in 2018, and, until then, he should focus more on becoming a better striker than being in the England setup. Rashford, who was excluded by Allardyce because of a lack of playing time for United, asked more questions of the former Sunderland manager by scoring a stoppage-time winner against Hull City in the Premier League.
“To be part of the squad that goes to Russia should be his target – along with other players I have with me. It is not a demotion to be with the Under-21s, not at all. It is a chance for him to start matches.”
Southgate provided many examples of some of the world’s football stars who have often stayed in the fringes of Under-21 and the senior squad at international level for a long time. The best example was Thierry Henry, who won the World Cup with France in 1998 before being sent back to the Under-21s to continue his development. Southgate also mentioned Rashford’s United teammate, Juan Mata, who moved between the two levels of international football for a long time before winning everything there is to win with the Spanish national team.
“It was the same with Juan Mata in Spain. We have had players over the years who have been in both squads, so there is no reason why Marcus should not carry on his development with us.”
Southgate went on to explain exactly how being in the Under-21s will help Rashford’s development. Declaring his belief in Rashford’s potential and his promise for the future, Southgate went as far to say that playing in England’s Under-21s could significantly enhance Rashford’s footballing experience and eventually make him a far better player.
“We spoke, a couple of weeks ago, about the squads. We speak regularly and he told me what was likely to happen. Marcus has one hell of a future and with the Under-21s, hopefully, we can help him develop his potential.
“The Under-21s have a vital role to play. It teaches players to mix with those from other clubs, to play in different countries and in different conditions to what they are used to at club level. That is what they faced in Toulon in the summer – and they won. And that will be great preparation for the time they get called up for the senior squad.
“It is the chance to give Marcus and other young players a taste of international football. Many have already benefited from their time with the Under-21s – players like Luke Shaw, who is with the senior squad this time. It is a valuable experience playing for your country at any level. And Marcus will benefit from it.”
It is only a matter of time before Rashford blossoms from a prospect to the highest echelon of football. Since debuting, Rashford has represented United in the Europa League, Premier League, FA Cup and England at the Euros, which is an incredible record for a player who has barely been a senior footballer for 6 months. Great things await the English striker, who seems to be only moving forwards.