Marcus Rashford is poised to make his England debut on Friday – but time for him to win a Euro 2016 spot is short.
That is the message from manager Roy Hodgson to the 18-year-old Manchester United striker as preparations for this summer’s tournament in France gather pace.
Rashford, who has scored eight goals in 18 appearances since bursting into the United first team in February, linked up with England for training on Monday having been named in the provisional 26-man squad.
He was able to feature despite being forced off during United’s FA Cup final victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday and is now in line to face Australia in Friday’s friendly at the Stadium of Light.
Asked if Rashford could play, Hodgson said: “We’d hope so, yes. I’m not planning an experimental team but we have only three preparation games and already quite a lot of people – seven players – have missed the first one.
“The amount of time we’re going to have with him is very, very short. There is no doubt I think I made the right decision putting him in this large group because the lad has enormous talent and you will know from my past record that I’m not afraid to give young players a chance. I don’t dismiss them on the basis of their age.
“But you will also know full well that where he is playing we actually have a lot of competition for places and there isn’t an awful lot of chance for him to stamp his authority on myself and the coaching staff, because there is such a short period of time.
“I am ruling nothing out and I thought his performance in the FA Cup final was very good. I’m delighted I shall be seeing him but we will have to wait to see whether I will be seeing a lot of him in the summer.”
Hodgson now has his full squad available. Rashford and United team-mates Wayne Rooney and Chris Smalling were not involved in Sunday’s friendly win over Turkey due its proximity with the FA Cup final, while Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana, James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne also reported later following the Europa League final.
Questions have been asked over where captain Rooney will best fit into the side given the form of the likes of Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and Dele Alli, but Hodgson is certainly happy enough with his recent form.
Hodgson said of Rooney’s FA Cup final display: “It was good, wasn’t it? He had a good spell. I was really delighted to see him run with the ball towards the end.
“In the beginning he was concentrating on his passing but he actually got hold of the ball in the second half and ran with it, producing that fantastic run and cross. That’s the Wayne Rooney we are hoping to see in the Euros.”
Hodgson also seems determined to give Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere every opportunity to prove his fitness. The 24-year-old played 66 minutes against Turkey in what was only his second start since fracturing his fibula last summer.
Hodgson said: “The sharpness is coming. He certainly didn’t show any signs of having any particular physical problems.
“I’m rather hoping he is going to be able to join us. We hope that with every training session and every week that goes by he is going to get fitter.
“We also hope to stay in the tournament a little while so I don’t think we should be too worried about him at this point of time in May. We should be thinking ahead to the middle or end of June and saying, ‘Could this be a guy who helps us win a match?'”