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Manchester United v Fenerbahce: Jose Mourinho on collision course over Marcus Rashford

By Robert Jones

Published 20/10/2016

In demand: Marcus Rashford could get call-up for England U21s despite featuring for the seniors
In demand: Marcus Rashford could get call-up for England U21s despite featuring for the seniors

Jose Mourinho feels it will make "no sense" for Marcus Rashford to play for England at next summer's European Under-21 Championship if by that stage the forward is a "regular" for the senior side.

Reports have suggested the Football Association will demand that Rashford, 18, is made available for the finals in Poland, irrespective of his development with the seniors.

The Manchester United youngster has five senior caps, which saw him score in a starting debut in May, then get four run-outs as a substitute.

He made his sole England Under-21s appearance in September, netting a hat-trick, before returning to the senior set-up for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia earlier this month.

Asked what his club's position was on the matter, United boss Mourinho - ahead of tonight's Europa League Group A clash with Fenerbahce at Old Trafford - said: "We are in mid-October and the Championship will be in the summer.

"I think we have to wait and see what happens until then. Because if the player becomes a regular in the 'A' national team, if you want to call it that, and established, then to say 'it is important for his development, the Under-21s' makes no sense.

"It's the same that he's a regular here with us, and then we are going to play him in the Under-23 Championship because we want to beat somebody and he can give us a help in that.

"Let's see what happens. If he's an Under-21s player in the national team, then he is an Under-21s player and there is no discussion about that.

"But if he becomes a regular choice for (England interim boss) Gareth Southgate in the first team, then we have to speak because we don't want to go into contradictions."

The Portuguese yesterday refused to confirm whether or not United captain Wayne Rooney, who has only featured as a substitute for the last four matches, would start against Turkish side Fenerbahce.

"I don't want to give you the team, honestly," Mourinho said.

"Wayne is working well - he's one of the big responsible people for the atmosphere that the players can breathe because he's positive and a good example.

"We count on him to start or be on the bench."

After a three-game losing streak in all competitions, United have gone unbeaten in their last five, their most recent result Monday's 0-0 Premier League draw at Liverpool.

There have been questions of late over the performances of midfielder Paul Pogba and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the two most high-profile signings the club made over the summer, and Mourinho has stressed they are not "untouchable" players.

In 2006 that was how he described certain members of his side at Chelsea.

Asked yesterday if he had the same approach at United, with Pogba and Ibrahimovic mentioned specifically, Mourinho rejected the claim.

"No," he replied. "That was a different Premier League and situation - it was the best team by far. It was a different story.

"Untouchable in our team has to be the spirit, the commitment, the pride, the commitment to the club, the respect to the fans - that has to be untouchable, not players."

Mourinho would not say whether Henrikh Mkhitaryan will feature tonight, the playmaker having been sidelined for seven games with a thigh issue.

He said: "Now he is fit and now it is time for him to go back to the levels we know he can achieve."

As well as Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial and Morgan Schneiderlin - both absent on Monday due to knocks - look to be in contention for a return to United's matchday squad.

Belfast Telegraph

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