Football News

Southgate “not certain” on long-term role for Man Utd striker Rashford

By CJ Smith

Published: 17:56, 9 September 2019

England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted he’s “still not certain” on which role best suits Marcus Rashford.

The 21-year-old has mainly been deployed as a centre-forward for Manchester United this season but has often been utilised as a winger for club and country in the past.

Where is Rashford most effective? Five things to know…

  • Rashford has lined up as a winger and centre-forward for Man Utd and England.
  • This season, he has been deployed through the middle by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
  • Rashford has scored twice and provided an assist for the Red Devils this season.
  • But Southgate has admitted he’s still unsure on where to play Rashford.
  • The 21-year-old has scored seven goals in 33 caps for England to date.

Rashford lined up on the left of a front three alongside Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling during England’s 4-0 win over Bulgaria on Saturday – a front three Southgate believes is as strong as any in international football right now.

But that hasn’t stopped the Three Lions boss pondering over what to do with Rashford, although he does have some words of wisdom for the youngster.

“Although we have, for a long time, almost wanted Marcus to be that option as a [No] 9, I’m still not certain that that is where he is happiest and where he does his best work,” Southgate said. “A lot of his development at United was as a wide raider and he isn’t as strong as Harry with his back to goal and holding play up.

“A lot of his best work is in that inside-left channel, coming in off the line, and I don’t think that’s a problem. I just think we have to be aware that’s probably his profile and to get the best out of him they are the areas of the pitch that we need to get him into regularly.

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“I think he can threaten teams in behind more. When he opens his legs and he runs in behind defences that’s the last place they want to be. What happened with the penalty [for England’s second goal], that’s what you want to see. Sometimes he wants to come to the ball [when] I’d be happy with that as a defender. We are encouraging our players to use their strengths.”

Kane’s hat-trick against Bulgaria puts him 14th in England’s all-time list of goalscorers, while Sterling has also rediscovered his scoring touch at international level, netting his seventh goal in as many caps.

And Southgate has been full of praise for his forward line, also highlighting the attacking depth currently at his disposal.

“I think they’re as exciting as anything,” he added. “They possibly don’t because they sometimes don’t view themselves as others do. They have great humility. But we have to remember, as a coaching team.

“Very often it’s easy to work with the team and find what they can’t do well and, whenever we’re judging games, all of us look at what hasn’t gone well. Sometimes you can overlook the brilliant things that they do, that maybe other countries don’t have. And we have [Jadon] Sancho and [Callum] Hudson-Odoi who are going to push, and really push, so I think it is exciting.”

England face Kosovo at St Mary’s on Tuesday looking to extend their 100 per cent record in Euro 2020 qualifying so far.