Belfast Telegraph

Will Marcus Rashford's England Under-21s hat-trick earn him more playing time?

Marcus Rashford again underlined his talent with a hat-trick for England Under-21s against Norway on Tuesday. Here, Press Association Sport examines the selection issues he is now posing.

Why was he not in the England senior side?

Despite Rashford being a member of the England squad at Euro 2016, new manager Sam Allardyce did not select him for last weekend's World Cup qualifier in Slovakia because of his lack of recent action for Manchester United.

Why is he not playing for United?

Rashford was superb in the second half of last season in a generally underwhelming United side and was commanding a place by right. Things have changed over the summer, though, with the arrival of new manager Jose Mourinho and the big-name signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Nobody can doubt the impact Ibrahimovic has already had and his enduring quality, and so it seems Rashford will have to wait patiently behind the Swede.

Will he get game time?

After Rashford sat out the opening two Premier League games of the season, rumours surfaced that the 18-year-old could be allowed out on loan. Mourinho quickly dismissed that suggestion and promised the youngster would get plenty of opportunities throughout the season. He delivered in the next game with Rashford coming off the bench to score a late winner at Hull. He is certainly stating his case clearly.

What happens this weekend?

United play Manchester City in a much-hyped derby fixture at Old Trafford, which pits old foes Mourinho and Pep Guardiola against each other for the first time with their new clubs. It remains to be seen whether Rashford, who scored against City last season, has done enough to get back into the United side.

Will Allardyce now bring Rashford back into his squad?

There will be a clamour for him to do so, but again it may depend on how much action he gets for United in the next month. If Allardyce does not see him as a starter against Malta or Slovenia, and he has played little for United in the meantime, the England Under-21 Euro qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Bosnia might serve him better. Then again, November's senior programme sees England play Scotland and Spain (friendly), and Allardyce may decide he wants him in the set-up ahead of such big fixtures.

Should Rashford play at the European Under-21 Championship next summer?

Even assuming England qualify, it is much too early to say. Manager Gareth Southgate would presumably want to take him and the extra tournament experience could be highly valuable, but much may depend on how he progresses at senior level and how often he plays this season. Interestingly, he would also be eligible for the Under-20 World Cup, but these are probably considerations for later in the season.


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