England manager Roy Hodgson has been “very impressed” by Marcus Rashford but has intimated it is unlikely the Manchester United teenager will go to Euro 2016.
The 18-year-old’s recent emergence has been astonishing, having gone from a relative unknown at United to become one of the country’s most talked about players.
Rashford has netted seven goals in 13 appearances, leading some to suggest the teenager should be fast-tracked into the England squad for this summer’s European Championship in France.
The attacking strength and depth at Hodgson’s disposal makes that unlikely, however, even though the forward has caught the eye of the Three Lions boss.
“I think it would be a very bold decision to put him in and I think it would mean possibly leaving someone behind who at the moment, in my opinion, has more reason to be called up,” Hodgson said. “But you never know. The fact is it would be foolish as well to say ‘no, no, he’s not ready — he can’t do it.’ I am sure he could do it.
“I am sure if there was enough spaces available and if we were taking 30, we’d certainly probably be considering him.
“But when it’s 23 and we’ve already got a bit of a headache with the front players … to put another one in there who is 18 years of age, has four or five games, is asking a lot.
“But I have been impressed with him.”
Nobody could have foreseen this scenario when the United teenager was drafted into the starting lineup against FC Midtjylland following Anthony Martial’s injury during the warm-up.
Rashford flourished rather than froze on his debut in late February and followed that Europa League brace with another pair at Old Trafford when Arsenal arrived days later.
Decisive goals against Manchester City and Aston Villa, as well as a stunning opener in last week’s FA Cup quarterfinal replay at West Ham, have seen his star rise further.
“He’s kept his place in the team and that’s the crucial factor,” Hodgson said at an England media briefing ahead of Euro 2016. “He wouldn’t have kept his place in the team if Louis van Gaal didn’t think he was worthy of a place in the team, so he has definitely gone beyond that.
“But where he actually wants to make his mark, that’s where we have a lot of players at the moment and I might even find myself having to leave out someone who is a lot more experienced, has been longer on the scene and will create more of a stir if I didn’t put him in the 23 than a Rashford.
“Does he have a very bright future? Is it inconceivable that he could go with England? No, it’s not inconceivable but it looks unlikely to me with the current players we’ve got and the competition for places in that area of the field.”
One United forward definitely heading to Euro 2016 is captain Wayne Rooney.
England’s all-time top scorer has impressed since being handed the armband after the World Cup, even meeting up with the squad last month when a knee injury ruled him out of the matches.
Hodgson sees Rooney as an integral member of the squad and will not kowtow to those questioning his form or fitness, saying he “merits a place” in the 23-man squad announced on May 12.
Whether he will start in France and where best to deploy him remain interesting questions, though, especially after continuing his return from injury in a midfield role as United beat Crystal Palace 2-0 on Wednesday.
It is a position he performed admirably in and offered a potential glimpse at the future, given Rooney is no longer the same player that lit up Euro 2004.
“I think players obviously do have to change,” Hodgson said when asked whether Rooney has to alter the way he approaches or plays games now he is in his thirties.
“Whether or not you can actually get back to that sort of rampaging style he had as a teenager when you’re 30, I don’t know.
“But there is no doubt his passion and his energy is undimmed.
“I don’t doubt that for one minute and, who knows, maybe we wouldn’t be surprised if this speculation about him [playing or not playing] might be the type of thing that kicks into gear again, that little bit of fervour you’re referring to.
“I can’t compare him with 2004 but by comparing him in the four years we have been together, I haven’t noticed any enormous difference. But 2004 is a long time ago.”