Gareth Southgate says Marcus Rashford still has a chance of making England’s World Cup squad despite being left out of the last 28-man selection for this month’s warm-up friendlies.
The Manchester United star has had some very encouraging performances so far this season under new United boss Erik ten Hag, scoring three times and providing two assists in just six Premier League games.
He’s currently struggling with a minor injury problem meaning he won’t feature in United’s Europa League trip to the Sheriff on Thursday night, although that doesn’t appear to have been a consideration for his omission from the England squad.
Southgate says he still wants to hold on to players from his previous squad – like Jarrod Bowen, who is yet to score or assist this season – but the door remains firmly open for Rashford and others if they can continue to impress.
“Although our summer results were disappointing, we have voted for form and performance over a long period of time,” said the Three Lions coach, who did not hold a press conference due to the mourning period in the country, released a brief statement.
“There were certain players that we wanted to involve this time around, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end for some of the others who aren’t involved.
“Marcus Rashford, for example, has shown some encouraging signs of late. He’s a player we know well. So if he can play at a high level in the next few weeks then of course he will be considered.’
Jadon Sancho, who has also started to shine again under Ten Hag, hasn’t been mentioned, but both Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw have made the squad despite having their playing time reduced – a situation Southgate isn’t particularly happy about.
He continued: “Obviously we have a number of players including Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips who don’t play many minutes with their club.
“It’s not ideal, but we believe they were and can be important players for us. It’s not a perfect situation but there’s still a lot of football to be played ahead of Qatar.”
Eric Dier, meanwhile, has been called back after a long absence while Ivan Toney was called up for the first time, with Southgate saying of the pair: “He played well with Eric Dier for a while.
“We think it’s a very close call for our centre-backs and he deserves to be included back in the group. We know what a good character he is. He fits into the culture and has great international experience and leadership skills.
“With Ivan Toney, we’ve been following him for a long time. I had a good chat with Thomas Frank about him last season. His form and qualities – not only his scoring chances but also his technical ability, build-up play and header power – give us a different threat than some of the other players we might pick.
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