Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is confident Marcus Rashford will be fit for Sunday’s Premier League trip to Newcastle after pulling out of the England squad through injury.
The 25-year-old forward is in the form of his life, having scored 19 goals in 25 club appearances since his impressive World Cup showing in Qatar.
Rashford was called up for March’s European qualification double-header against Italy and Ukraine, only to withdraw with a knock picked up in the FA Cup quarter-final win against Fulham.
He returned to individual training this week and Ten Hag is expecting to be able to call upon him at St James’ Park this weekend.
Downtime 🥷✌🏾 pic.twitter.com/aLfcDqRtaM— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) March 23, 2023
“I’ve good hope,” he said of Rashford. “He trained but he had to do some treatment, he had to do some individual training.
“Today he joined in with the group. We have one more day, so I have a good hope he is available, yeah. I think so.”
Rashford was enjoying a break in New York when England were winning 2-1 in Italy, leading Gareth Southgate to defend the forward’s decision to jet off to the United States.
The player posted a photo with the caption “downtime” during his time on the east coast and Ten Hag believes that break when recovering from his unspecified issue was beneficial.
“I think it’s positive that he was in a break,” the United boss said. “I think Rashford, I think (along) with Bruno (Fernandes), he was playing the most games of the whole squad.
“I think Manchester United is playing the most games all across Europe and our internationals are not mostly on the bench, mostly they are playing.
“So, our players play the most games and this is crazy season, so they also need times that they can have a breather and can collect energy.
“For me, it’s positive that he took that time to turn off from football.
“I have seen him back this week and he showed a lot of energy and a lot of motivation.
“Training as a whole team was a really good session with a lot of spirit, but especially also with Marcus so I think therefore it was good.”
Ten Hag repeated the line that he is “not Harry Potter” when asked about Rashford’s rejuvenation this season, saying it was down to the player rather than any managerial wizardry.
Marginal gains 🔋💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/YFI0uizsDm— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) March 29, 2023
The England international’s form has heightened the need to tie the 25-year-old down to a new deal, with his current contract expiring at the end of the 2023-24 campaign.
“We never do (offer updates on negotiations),” Ten Hag said. “It’s an internal process.
“We focus on winning games. Of course we’re also planning for the future, so in the back we’re working on that.
“But that is about agents, it’s about football director John Murtough. We are focusing, Rashy and I, on performing.”
Ten Hag gave little away regarding contract negotiations with Rashford but was happy to hear left-back Luke Shaw is close to signing a new long-term deal.
“If he signed, I don’t know,” the United boss said with a smile. “I haven’t heard until now.
“John didn’t inform me until now, so I have to wait for that. If it’s the truth, I would be really pleased.
“Definitely we want to keep him because he’s a really important player for our team.”
Casemiro is suspended and Tom Heaton injured for Sunday’s match, joining Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek on the sidelines.
But Anthony Martial could be in the United squad after two months out with a hip issue.
“He’s training for two weeks now,” Ten Hag said. “I think he can be in the squad for Sunday.”