Bright new hope: Could Manchester United's teenaged sensation Marcus Rashford be England's hero at Euro 2016?
Manager says the 18-year-old is on his radar while confirming captain Wayne Rooney will go to the European Championships regardless of his club form
Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford’s stunning introduction to big-time football has come as no surprise to Roy Hodgson and the England manager has not ruled him out of selection for his Euro 2016 finals squad.
Hodgson has been keeping a close eye on the 18-year-old forward, who scored twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League and got two more in Sunday’s Premier League win over Arsenal.
“I would neither rule him in nor rule him out, I just hope he can do well,” Hodgson was quoted by British media as saying at a Euro 2016 coaches’ briefing in France on Thursday.
“I have been watching Rashford for two years, so I have known about him for a long time. He is in our system.”
Hodgson added that while he was pleased to see an England under-18 player featuring in United’s first team, he hoped Rashford would not have too many expectations placed on him.
“My hope for Rashford, and it is a vain hope, is that he will be allowed to develop in peace and it won’t suddenly be a question of, ‘You have scored two goals for Man United and you’re going to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo’ or every time he has two or three bad games he is a flash in the pan.
“Let’s hope the lad gets a chance to develop in the same way as Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham and Paul Scholes,” Hodgson added.
“Scoring four goals in three games is a great achievement and if he can keep that up, it is great for Manchester United and England.”
Rashford was a late inclusion in United’s team against Midtjylland after Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up and struck twice in a 5-1 win in the last 32, second-leg clash.
Meanwhile, Hodgson also claimed Wayne Rooney is guaranteed to make the England squad for the European Championship if he recovers in time from his right knee injury.
READ MORE: Big blow for Manchester United and England as Wayne Rooney set for two months out with knee ligament injury
Speaking at a Uefa coaches’ workshop in Paris, Hodgson said he won’t judge his captain on his form when picking his 23-man list.
“He’s got to come back before the end of the season, there is no doubt about that,” Hodgson said. “Form is transient. His quality, and his leadership quality are in the fact that he is captain of England, and that is not transient, that’s a given. There is no way I should be looking to dismiss a Wayne Rooney who is fit and playing football on the basis that he is out of form, because he is our captain. And the captain is important.”
Rooney injured the ligaments in his knee last month. His injury did not require surgery and the Manchester United striker could return to action by the end of March.
But even a lengthier absence in unlikely to cost him his place at Euro 2016 in France from June 10-July 10.
To prepare for the European Championship, England have a double-header of friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands this month. Rooney, who has scored three times in four appearances for England this season, is unlikely to be fit for those games.
Despite his injury, Rooney remains very well placed in Hodgson’s pecking order.
“Wayne’s main focus is to do well with England and for England,” the England coach said. “I don’t have any fears or concerns about him in that respect. He knows that if he wants to be in the first XI he’s got to be playing well enough to displace some of the other players we have.
“But one thing he does not have to worry about is his place in the squad of players, that’s a certain thing.”
Reuters, Associated Press