Rashford too good for U-21S: Mourinho

Manchester United's manager Jose Mourinho speaks during a press conference at the club's training complex near Carrington, England, on April 19, 2017.
Manchester United's manager Jose Mourinho speaks during a press conference at the club's training complex near Carrington, England, on April 19, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

No point going to Euros as he's above the level, says United boss, with an eye to squad balance

LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes it makes no sense for Marcus Rashford to play for England's Under-21 team in June's European Championship as the teenager has risen above that level.

Despite the striker breaking into the full England squad, national team manager Gareth Southgate has said he would like to have the 19-year-old at the youth tournament in Poland.

But, faced with a growing injury list, Mourinho said he does not want to see Rashford playing at age-group level.

"I just feel that when a player reaches a certain level, it doesn't make a lot of sense to drop levels," he said. "It's like him going to play in the (United) Under-23s to win, let's say, a derby against Man City. No."

United lost striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a knee injury - likely to be for the rest of the season - during Thursday's Europa League quarter-final win over Anderlecht but Mourinho said Rashford "cannot play every game".

French striker Anthony Martial, recently challenged to improve his approach by the manager, replaced Ibrahimovic for extra time on Thursday and could now be given a bigger chance to stake his claim.

Mourinho used Jesse Lingard in attack with Rashford to good effect during last Sunday's 2-0 Premier League win over Chelsea at Old Trafford.

LET'S BE PRACTICAL

It's like him going to play in the (United) Under-23s to win, let's say, a derby against Man City. No.

JOSE MOURINHO, Manchester United manager, who feels that England squad member Marcus Rashford should not be playing at youth level.

Wayne Rooney, who has been sidelined with various injury problems, could be ready to make a return for today's visit to Burnley.

"He (Rooney) has a good mentality, he is a fighter, he is a strong man, even if he is not in the best condition, even if he is not in the level of sharpness that you need to play high-level football," the Portuguese said. "But he has the experience and character, so he has to. Now we need absolutely everyone."

Mourinho has bigger problems at the back where a knee injury, also suffered against Anderlecht, to Argentinian defender Marcos Rojo, leaves him with few options.

"Eric Bailly played six matches in a row, and we lost Marcos Rojo, we don't have (Phil) Jones or (Chris) Smalling. We are in trouble," he said.

Reserve-team captain and centre-back Axel Tuanzebe, whose first-team career amounts to a 22-minute substitute outing against Wigan in the FA Cup, could be in contention for a league debut at Turf Moor today.

Burnley, lying 14th and eight points clear of the relegation zone, have won just one of their 10 league games since the end of January, and are not yet assured of survival.

But they probably need to win just one of their final five games to ensure a second successive season of top-division football.

The concern for manager Sean Dyche is the goals have dried up - just two in five matches.

Striker Sam Vokes is a doubt, having suffered a hamstring problem last weekend, which could mean a recall to the starting line-up for leading scorer Andre Gray, who has gone six games without a goal.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 23, 2017, with the headline 'Rashford too good for U-21S: Mourinho'. Print Edition | Subscribe