Sport Soccer

Sunday 26 February 2017

Rashford gets chance to stake England claim

Mark Ogden

Rashford’s emergence has placed pressure on Sturridge to prove his fitness and avoid missing out on England’s squad. Photo: Reuters
Rashford’s emergence has placed pressure on Sturridge to prove his fitness and avoid missing out on England’s squad. Photo: Reuters

Marcus Rashford will make his England debut against Australia tonight with Roy Hodgson admitting that the "world will be watching" the teenager - just 92 days after he made his first appearance for Manchester United.

With Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge a major doubt due to a calf strain that has prevented him training this week and Hodgson resting Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney, 18-year-old Rashford is set to start against the Australians at the Stadium of Light.

Hodgson has confessed his reluctance to thrust Rashford into the spotlight following his incredible rise to prominence at United, for whom he scored eight goals in 18 games during the final three months of the season.

But with the youngster impressing the England manager during United's FA Cup final victory against Crystal Palace last Saturday, Hodgson accepts that Rashford has become too exciting a prospect to ignore.

"I worked hard in the beginning to play down expectations when, after one or two games, people were saying 'a new genius is born', and that we must take him to France," Hodgson said. "I wanted to at least give him the time to see if he could keep it up over two or three months and that is what he has done. He is playing very well at the end of what must be quite a tough period for him.

"He has got very interesting qualities, there is no doubt about that. Whether he can produce them at international level at such a young age, we will find out."

Rashford emerged from obscurity in February when, after a pre-match injury to Anthony Martial, he scored twice on his United debut in the Europa League victory over FC Midtjylland and Hodgson admitted that he had little knowledge of him prior to that.

Rashford's emergence has placed pressure on Sturridge to prove his fitness and avoid missing out on England's squad.

"Daniel has a calf strain and has had it basically since he joined up with us," Hodgson said. "I can't deny that we are talking about a player with a really unfortunate record, but he has worked very hard to come back."

England (probable 4-3-3): Forster; Clyne, Smalling, Stones, Bertrand; Henderson, Wilshere, Drinkwater; Townsend, Rashford, Lallana

Australia (probable 4-3-3) : Ryan; Risdon, Milligan, Wright, Smith; Luongo, Jedinak, Rogic; Mooy, Juric, Kruse.

Ref: D Makkelie (Netherlands).

England v Australia, live, ITV 7.45

Irish Independent

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