Belfast Telegraph

Marcus Rashford set to return to England training on Friday

Manchester United striker has yet to train in Russia.

Marcus Rashford will train with England on Friday as manager Gareth Southgate fine-tunes his preparations for the World Cup opener with Tunisia.

Three days out from Monday’s Group G clash in Volgograd, the Manchester United man will train for the first time in Russia after a knee problem.

Rashford will join in with his team-mates as they train at the Spartak Zelenogorsk Stadium, although reports suggest Southgate may already have decided on his starting line-up.

A number of national newspapers claimed on Thursday evening that Southgate will opt to put Raheem Sterling in support of lead striker Harry Kane, in a side containing nine World Cup debutants.

That would mean starts for the likes of Harry Maguire over Gary Cahill, Jordan Henderson ahead of Eric Dier and Ashley Young at left wing-back.

Regardless of who Southgate picks, the return to training of Rashford – revealed on The ‘Lions’ Den’ show on England’s YouTube channel – is good news for the manager, who has so far avoided any other injury scares and kept the initial 23-man squad he named in mid-May intact.

Southgate revealed Rashford’s “slight knock” upon landing in Russia and a number of team-mates attempted to allay concerns, as did the forward himself.

“Thanks for the messages I’ve been getting,” Rashford posted on Twitter. “Picked up a slight niggle but nothing to worry about #ThreeLions”

All eyes will be on Rashford during the 15-minute segment of training open to the media on Friday as he renews his bid for a starting berth against Tunisia.

The 20-year-old had bolstered his chances of starting the Group G opener with a man-of-the-match display in last week’s 2-0 friendly send-off win against Costa Rica.

“For me, at the end of the season, he cares so much you can see he was trying too hard,” Southgate said of the Manchester United forward following the win at Elland Road.

“I said to all of the team before the game ‘I expect to see mistakes tonight and if I don’t there’d probably be a problem because we won’t be trying to be as good as we might’.

“With attacking players in particular, if they’re going to try things and take people on and be creative, they’re going to lose the ball and they’re going to make errors.

“But then they might produce some of the moments we saw from Marcus tonight.

“I mean the goal was world-class, really, but he’s teasing defenders by the touchline and his performance wasn’t perfect, but he was enjoying his football and that was great to see.”

Rashford’s knee issue meant he was the only squad member absent from training on Thursday morning, when England players and staff observed a minute’s silence to mark the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Southgate’s team showed their respect for those who lost their lives in last summer’s tragedy in London before training, where a number of staff wore Grenfell green heart badges.

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