Jose Mourinho has dismissed concerns over Marcus Rashford’s lack of game-time as the World Cup approaches, putting the ball in Gareth Southgate’s court by saying the forward will be selected if the England manager trusts him.
It is hard to believe it has only been two years since the Manchester United academy graduate burst onto the scene, following up a debut brace against FC Midtjylland with thrilling displays that saw the teenager fast-tracked into Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad.
Rashford has gone on to win 15 caps and become an important member of the England squad, but Southgate is reported to have grown concerned about the 20-year-old’s lack of starts for United.
It is an unwanted scenario with the World Cup looming large, but Mourinho has downplayed concerns about a player who last started a Premier League match on St Stephen’s Day.
“No, I don’t reassure anyone,” said the United boss. “The main reassurance for him is that he is always selected.
“There is not one single match when Marcus is not selected to start or to be on the bench.
“When I see you sometimes put in doubt if he is going to be selected for the World Cup or not be selected.
“You know, if the national coach trusts him, he selects him. It doesn’t matter if he plays or doesn’t play.
“There are many examples of players who don’t play for their clubs at all and they go to the national teams.
“You have the example of (Sergio) Romero, who is the second goalkeeper at Manchester United and the first goalkeeper for such an amazing football country like Argentina.
“In your own country, you have examples of players who play even without scoring a goal in the Premier League.
“So, it’s up to Gareth Southgate. If he trusts him, he selects him. It doesn’t matter if he plays or if he doesn’t play for Manchester United.”
Mourinho says Rashford remains a key player at United, with his ability to play in the three attacking positions meaning even having “him on the bench is such a security for me and for the team”.
Rashford has only started two matches in 2018 ahead of tonight’s trip to Crystal Palace, leading to concerns his development could be stunted.
“At his age, what he’s doing is more than enough and the experience he’s getting at every level is more than enough for us to be happy with what we think is going to be his future,” said Mourinho. “It’s as simple as that.
“But because he had such an impact at the beginning, probably people expect him to play even more than he does and score even more than he does and perform even more than what he does but it is not so simple.
“What I see makes me really happy, to see the same boy.
“When you ask me about (Scott) McTominay, I spoke about McTominay as a boy before he was a player and Marcus is the same.
“What will keep them in the right direction, what will make them have that stability to improve is what they are as boys. And Marcus is a fantastic boy, also very grounded.
“For sure, we love him, and we believe in him, and he’s going to have the chances.”
Palace manager Roy Hodgson is targeting the same strong end to the season with which he led both Fulham and West Brom to Premier League survival.
The 70-year-old has watched his team, undermined by a succession of injuries and the improving form of their rivals, return to the bottom three having once fought their way to mid-table.
Hodgson had inspired a remarkable improvement after Palace lost their opening seven league fixtures without scoring a goal, but the threat of relegation has again grown and largely because that start to the season has left them with so little margin for error.
Having guided Fulham to survival on the final day of the 2007-08 season and then Albion to safety four years later having only been appointed as late in the season as February, Hodgson was asked if Palace would need to do similarly, and he said: “We will, there is no doubt about that.
“Any teams who are going to avoid relegation will have strong ends to the season. You have got to string results together. I remember both of those periods very strongly. The one at Fulham was more dramatic because it went to the last day.
“The West Brom one was done a bit less dramatically so we did not feel the sword was hanging over us quite as long as at Fulham.
“On both occasions I remember the enormous joy and satisfaction that the players and the whole club took, having overcome a very difficult obstacle in front of them and come out the other side smelling of roses.
“There is no alternative but to keep your nerve and to remain as calm as you can.”
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