Belfast Telegraph

Marcus Rashford backs use of VAR but calls for improvement

The England forward will be pushing for a start against Panama on Sunday.

Marcus Rashford believes the implementation of video assistant referees will be great for the game once the issues that threatened to derail England’s World Cup opener are ironed out.

The Three Lions kicked off a major tournament with a victory for the first time since 2006 on Monday as Harry Kane glanced home a stoppage-time header against Tunisia.

The 2-1 win sets England up well ahead of Sunday’s Group G clash against Panama, when Gareth Southgate’s men will be hoping for better officiating from those on the ground and watching from afar.

Aggrieved at the penalty awarded against Kyle Walker by referee Wilmar Roldan, that equaliser was compounded by the VAR’s lack of action when Kane was twice bundled to the deck in the box.

Southgate felt his side were wrongly denied penalties on Monday and Rashford hopes for quick improvements to a system the forward welcomes.

“The idea of bringing it into the game is spot on,” he said.

“It will improve with time because there are some decisions – like the ones you said – where they have to at least check whether or not it’s a penalty.

“That’s down to them to decide but at least they should check those. I’m sure it’s something they can improve on.

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Marcus Rashford was on smiles when talking to the media on Tuesday (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“We’ve not talked about last night specifically, but we’ve had conversations about it previously.

“It’s a tough one because I think it’s something that the game definitely needed. As with everything it needs improving and I think it will improve in time.”

Three officials from FIFA gave a presentation to the England players and staff last Wednesday, but there are clearly still issues that need clearing up.

While England wait for the VARs to get their ducks in a row, Southgate is focusing on taking their sparkling start against Tunisia across 90 minutes.

“It was a good start to the tournament and it certainly gives us a platform to build on throughout the tournament,” Rashford said.

“The important thing was always the three points, but it was good that, especially in the first half, we got the performance we were looking for.

“You would expect us all to be happy and buzzing, which we were. It’s a big step to take, getting the three points.

“Like I said before, it’s a platform for us to build on and we have to improve the performances which will ultimately get the three points.”

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England boss Gareth Southgate, centre, and Marcus Rashford embrace at the end of Monday’s match (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Rashford came on a second-half substitute at the Volgograd Arena.

The 20-year-old’s hopes of starting the match appeared to go up in smoke due to a knee complaint sustained following his man-of-the-match display in the friendly send-off win against Costa Rica.

Rashford is now hoping to get the nod against Panama and complement star turn Kane, whose first goals at a major tournament underlined his key role for England this summer.

“He’s been a brilliant leader for us leading up to the tournament, as well as now we have started the tournament,” the Manchester United forward said.

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Harry Kane was England’s hero against Tunisia (Adam Davy/PA)

“He always leads by example and there’s no better way to do it than by scoring goals, like he has been doing.

“He’s a top forward. His career is only going to go up and up.

“He’s very young and, at this stage of his career, he’s going to keep improving and getting better, so who knows how good he can get?”

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