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Marcus Rashford still a possibility for under-21 tournament, says Southgate


Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has scored once in five senior appearances for England

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has scored once in five senior appearances for England

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has scored once in five senior appearances for England

Interim England boss Gareth Southgate has left the door open for Marcus Rashford to play at the European Under-21 Championship next summer.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has doubts whether Rashford should feature at the under-21s tournament in Poland but Southgate wants to take the striker's season on face value.

Mourinho said last week if Rashford was a regular for the senior side he should not go to next summer's tournament after they qualified this month.

Southgate gave Rashford his under-21 debut in September when he scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Norway and then selected him for his first senior squad in October after Sam Allardyce's exit.

Rashford has scored once in five senior caps but Southgate will not rush into a decision.

"It's always a case of what's right for the individual player," Southgate told Press Association Sport.

"That's why you can't make decisions on players at this stage of the season. You have an idea what you think is the ideal pathway for an international young player but you have to bear in mind the season they have and where they are in terms of being involved in the senior team.

"It's a scenario we went through two years ago but there is a point where young players are still viewed as being part of the development teams. There's also a point where we have to decide if they are still in development teams and is that going to benefit them or have they moved through it?

"As we have seen in the last couple of months Marcus is between the two. We have to wait and see what it looks like as we move forward.

"Everything looking forward is hypothetical, I can only talk more generally, we always try to view what's right for the individual and what experience we'd like them to have to prepare them to go into the senior team and be successful."

Rashford is starting ahead of England captain Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford and Southgate admitted making a call early would avoid speculation, but will continue to speak to United and Mourinho.

"When there is that clarity it saves us a debate for months about who's going to go," he said.

"I knew from the start of this (under-21) campaign John (Stones) and Raheem (Sterling) were going to be with the seniors and then Eric (Dier) and Dele (Alli) moved up and were starters in the Euros.

"You are always reviewing where a player's at, how many matches they are playing and what's best for them. We are always liaising with the clubs on that as well.

"Everything I have seen Jose say is perfectly reasonable."

Southgate has been replaced as interim under-21 boss by Aidy Boothroyd who won both his games in charge - against Kazakhstan and Bosnia-Herzegovina - to help the squad qualify.

Boothroyd, like Southgate, is waiting to discover his long-term future and with or without Rashford, Southgate wants the under-21s to succeed next year.

"To be going to a fifth tournament on the bounce, that's the best in Europe," he said.

" I think you have to win the group to get to the semi-finals so it's even more challenging than the last couple. There's a lot of experience in the squad from the last tournament which they'll want to put to good use."