Football: Mourinho issues Rashford with England Under-21 warning

Rashford controls the ball during the World Cup 2018 football qualifier between England and Malta on Oct 8, 2016.
Rashford controls the ball during the World Cup 2018 football qualifier between England and Malta on Oct 8, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Jose Mourinho does not want Marcus Rashford to be selected for next year's European Under-21 Championships if the Manchester United striker is a regular in the senior England squad.

The United manager was responding to stories that England's governing Football Association were keen to include Premier League stars, such as Rashford, in their Under-21 squad for the tournament in Poland in June.

Mourinho has no problem with Rashford - who turns 19 on the last day of this month - being a part of that squad, but only if he has not established himself in the senior set-up.

"We are in mid-October, the Championships will be in the summer," United manager Mourinho said on Wednesday (Oct 19).

"I think we have to wait and see what happens until then. Because if the player becomes a regular in the 'A' national team, if you want to call it that, then to say it is important for his development (to be) with the Under-21s, makes no sense."

Gareth Southgate has been promoted from his post as England Under-21 boss to be the manager of the senior England team on an interim basis, with the FA still to announce if the former England defender will succeed Sam Allardyce on a permanent basis after the veteran coach was forced out after just one game following indiscreet comments made to undercover reporters.

"If he's an Under-21 player in the national team, then he is an Under-21 player and there is no discussion about that," said Mourinho of Rashford.

"But if he becomes a regular choice for Gareth Southgate in the first team, then we have to speak because we don't want him going."

Rashford has five England caps to his name, four of them as a substitute in competitive internationals.

Mourinho was speaking as he put the finishing touches to plans for the Europa League group game with Fenerbahce at Old Trafford on Thursday.

The game could be the opportunity for Wayne Rooney and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to feature in the starting side as Mourinho juggles his squad ahead of Sunday's trip to Chelsea.

Rooney has not started the last four United games and has also seen his place in the England run-on XI disappear under new manager Southgate.

"Wayne is working well, he is one of those responsible for the atmosphere for the players," insisted Mourinho. "He is positive, he is a good example. We count on him to start or be on the bench. He will be there tomorrow (Thursday)."

As for Mkhitaryan, a £26 million (S$44 million) pre-season signing from Borussia Dortmund, the Armenian has not been involved since defeat in the Manchester derby in early-September as he struggles to recover from a thigh injury.

"He was injured and was injured for quite a long time," said Mourinho. "Now he is not injured anymore. He has been training with the team without any limitation. "I cannot confirm if he plays tomorrow."

The only player whom Mourinho confirmed would start against Turkish side Fenerbahce was England left-back Luke Shaw, who has not kicked-off a game for United since the manager criticised hium following last month's defeat loss at Watford.

Shaw insisted he had taken Mourinho's comments in his stride and was keen to improve.

"Of course," said Shaw. "I said before I'm a grown man and I can take what the manager said.

"I'm still young and I need to take on board what he said and improve. I'm always going to listen to what the coaches saying have a good attitude about it."

Shaw added: "I was disappointed with the result but not what the manager said. I take it on board and look to improve. Hopefully, I can do that in the next matches."