Belfast Telegraph

Marcus Rashford's teen spirit can inspire England: Rooney

By Simon Peach

Wayne Rooney has welcomed Marcus Rashford's England call-up and expects the Manchester United teenager to push Roy Hodgson for a place in the final Euro 2016 squad.

Less than three months after bursting onto the scene at Old Trafford, the 18-year-old has been selected as one of the 26 players for the Three Lions' upcoming preparation matches.

Rashford was the stand-out inclusion in Monday's squad and celebrated with a fine strike the following day as United overcame Bournemouth 3-1, taking his tally to eight goals in 17 matches.

It is a breakthrough that has thoroughly impressed Rooney, who fully expects his teenage team-mate to shine when he links up with England.

"Yeah, it is (extraordinary) but he deserves it," the United captain said of Rashford's rise.

"I think first of all it has just been great to see his attitude for a young lad.

"He has come in, listened to the manager and the players, he has worked hard. He fully deserves his chance. I am sure he will give Roy a difficult decision to make in terms of trying to get into the 23."

United's involvement in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace on Saturday rules Rashford out of Sunday's friendly at home to Turkey, but the striker could be in line for his international debut against Australia on May 27.

Hodgson plans to name his final Euro 2016 squad in the days following that match, ahead of the May 31 deadline to confirm the squad to UEFA.

Meanwhile, Rooney sees his future in United and England's midfield as that is where the captain now feels most effective.

No longer the bustling teenage striker who burst onto the scene with Everton, the 30-year-old has impressed in a deeper midfield role under Louis van Gaal in recent months.

Rooney was deservedly handed the man of the match award for his display in Tuesday's 3-1 win against Bournemouth - United's final Premier League game of the season after it was postponed following a bomb scare at Old Trafford last Sunday - and is keen to keep that role.

"Sometimes you have to make choices in your career and at the minute it is probably better for me to play deeper," he said.

"Obviously that's a bit different now with England because I could still be the striker, but certainly after that, I am sure for next season, that is probably where I see myself playing.

"I feel like I can dictate games more from there and try and control the tempo in games, which I felt I did quite well against Bournemouth."

Rooney lit up a bleak first-half in Tuesday's rearranged match by finishing a fine team move, racking up his 100th Premier League goal at Old Trafford.

But United were edged out of fourth spot - and a Champions League place - by neighbours Man City on goal difference.

A fifth-place finish means the Europa League now awaits, but Rooney has no complaints.

"We haven't scored enough goals this season," he said. "After 38 games, you finish where you deserve to finish. We weren't good enough to finish in the top four this season and we need to improve on that."

It has been a frustrating season - one which could well cost Van Gaal his job - yet United can still end it with silverware.

Saturday's FA Cup final against Crystal Palace at Wembley could see United lift their first major trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

Belfast Telegraph


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