England Under-21 winger Nathan Redmond has tipped Marcus Rashford to become a proven Premier League star.
The Southampton man believes Manchester United striker Rashford can emulate former England youngsters after his debut hat-trick for the Young Lions on Tuesday.
Rashford marked his bow with a treble in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over Norway in Colchester to put Gareth Southgate’s side on the brink of Euro 2017 in front of watching England boss Sam Allardyce.
It completed a double after he netted on his senior England debut against Australia in May, while he also scored on his Premier League and European bows for United.
Redmond is expecting big things and said: “He is different to Saido Berahino, Harry Kane and Danny Ings. All those players have different qualities that have got them to that level.
“Marcus has direct pace and his finishing is up there with some of the best I’ve seen for the England Under-21s. He is the same as Harry Kane and Saido Berahino – their finishing was incredible and Marcus is the same.
“He blended into the group really well. He knew most of the boys before he came but the Under-21s is a fantastic group to come into. The environment is easy going and everyone, from the manager and his staff to the players, make all the new boys feel welcome. He worked hard in training and showed his qualities there.
“He is just a normal kid, a typical 18-year-old who loves his football.”
The senior squad face Malta and Slovenia in their next World Cup qualifiers in October while Southgate’s side travel to Kazakhstan and host Bosnia needing just one win to qualify for Poland next year.
However, Redmond knows Rashford’s Under-21 career may be short-lived.
“He has done well so far but this was his first game and we have done well without him so far,” said the 22-year-old. “So we can cope, we have other strikers and players who can come in. It is a very strong squad and the competition for places is really high. If he comes away with us again it will be an added bonus, if not we’ve got the players to deal with it.”
The former Birmingham winger will be too old for the Under-21s after next year’s tournament, having earned his 30th cap against Norway, and has been tipped to make a senior breakthrough for over a year.
He made an £11million switch to Southampton from Norwich in the summer but remains relaxed over the prospect of a call-up from Allardyce.
He added: “It is what it is. If it is going to happen it will. If it doesn’t, all I can do is just keep my head down and play my football. I’ve been in the Under-21s for a long time, I’m one of the senior players here now and I feel it is time to kick on a little bit.”