Marcus Rashford will have to make himself available for next summer’s European Under-21 Championship regardless of how much football he has played over the course of the season for Manchester United and England.
The Football Association are determined to ensure that whoever is in charge of the Under-21s next summer has as many options available as possible, which will include United forward Rashford. Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate is currently serving as caretaker manager for the senior team following Sam Allardyce’s resignation, and he will definitely take charge of next month’s encounter against Scotland and Spain before a decision is made on his future.
Aidy Boothroyd has stepped up from his role with the Under-20s side to deputise for Southgate, and could be in contention to lead the Under-21s should Southgate receive the senior job on a permanent basis.
There has been plenty of debate over Rashford’s inclusion in the senior squad, with some believing that he can offer more to the current crop of players if he’s given a starting berth while others believe he should learn his trade with regular appearances for the youth side.
The United forward, who turns 19 at the end of this month, was left out of Allardyce’s squad for the opening World Cup qualifier against Slovakia, but was included by Southgate for the recent win over Malta and draw in Slovenia. Rashford had to make do with substitute appearances in both of those matches though, meaning he only played a combined 30 minutes for the Three Lions.
The England Under-21s were also in action during the international break, and there is a case to say that Rashford would have received much more playing time if he had featured in the wins over Kazakhstan and Bosnia-Herzegovina in their European Under-21 Championship qualifiers.
Liverpool vs Manchester United player ratings
Loris Karius – 4 out of 10
Didn’t have too much to do but looked nervous when the crosses did come in and his loose pass nearly gave United the lead.
Nathaniel Clyne – 5 out of 10
Couldn’t attack anywhere near as much as he normally likes to and was restricted in what he could contribute.
Joel Matip – 7 out of 10
Had a good battle with Ibrahimovic throughout and probably got the better of the big Swede.
Dejan Lovren – 7 out of 10
Like Matip, did well to keep Ibrahimovic quiet and read the play well.
James Milner – 7 out of 10
Could have had a tough night against Rashford but continued his impressive run at left back.
Jordan Henderson – 5 out of 10
Struggled to get his foot on the ball as he lost the midfield battle to United’s pairing.
Emre Can – 5 out of 10
Much of the play passed him by as it seems he is still lacking match fitness on his first Premier League start of the season.
Sadio Mane – 6 out of 10
Continued to drop deep in hope of making something happen and was probably the liveliest of Liverpool’s attacking players.
Philippe Coutinho – 5 out of 10Philippe Coutinho – 5 out of 10
Looked out of sorts and made uncharacteristic errors with his forward passing and crossing.
Roberto Firmino – 5 out of 10
Similar to Coutinho, he also struggled to find any space between the lines to work in.
Daniel Sturridge – 4 out of 10
Anonymous in the first half and replaced before the hour mark by Lallana. He has now gone 615 minutes without a Premier League goal.
David De Gea – 8 out of 10
Didn’t put a foot wrong and was needed to pull off two world-class saves from Can and Coutinho.
Antonio Valencia – 8 out of 10
Continued his fine start to the season and saved the game for United with a stunning last-ditch challenge.
Chris Smalling – 6 out of 10
Did well to keep Coutinho and co. out but United’s captain for the night was overshadowed by his new centre-back partner.
Eric Bailly – 7 out of 10
A strong and commanding performance by Bailly as he kept Liverpool’s attacking quartet quiet.
Daley Blind – 5 out of 10
Could have been found out with his lack of pace but held his own against the Reds’ pacey attacks.
Marouane Fellaini – 7 out of 10
Helped control the game from midfield and broke up play well alongside Herrera.
Ander Herrera – 8 out of 10
Was the best outfield player of the game. He was dynamic and won possession well on multiple occasions.
Paul Pogba – 5 out of 10
Played in a more advanced role but other than a few neat passes he looked frustrated as he struggled to make anything happen.
Marcus Rashford – 5 out of 10
Didn’t get past Milner as much as he’d have liked but the one time he did he fired in a dangerous cross that Liverpool struggled to deal with.
Ashley Young – 6 out of 10
Did exactly what he was put into the team for. Crossed well and worked back industriously to keep Clyne quiet.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 4 out of 10
Cut a frustrated figure up front as he struggled to link with his midfielders amid the pressure from Matip and Lovren.
According to The Times, FA chief executive Martin Glenn is determined to include Rashford in the Under-21s next summer in an effort to give young players more exposure to major tournaments in an effort to improve their mental strength. Rashford has made just two appearances for England at youth level, though that is in-part due to his incredible rise last season as the teenager already has five senior caps to his name.
Rashford is also believed to be open to playing for the Under-21s in Poland next summer due to the fact that his playing time in United’s first team this season is far from guaranteed. He was selected by Jose Mourinho to start the 0-0 draw with Liverpool on Monday night in what was his fourth consecutive Premier League start, but a poor performance at Anfield could see Mourinho shuffle the pack this weekend for the crucial trip to Chelsea.
United would also be uneasy with sending Rashford to the Under-21 Championship next year if he plays a full season for them as well as with England. However, the report adds that Glenn is determined to take a stronger stance against Premier League clubs, with the feeling that the FA has bowed to pressure from them too easily in the past.
Both Luke Shaw and Jack Wilshere have been exempt from selection in the 2015 and 2013 respectively after their clubs ruled them too fatigued to feature following a full season of Premier League football. Another England midfielder who, in hindsight, should have been included in last year’s Under-21 tournament was Ross Barkley, with the FA now accepting that he would have gained much more from regular football in the Czech Republic rather than sitting on the bench at Euro 2016, where he failed to make a single appearance during England’s ill-fated campaign in France.