LONDON • Louis van Gaal has brought through some pedigreed young players in his time and believes Marcus Rashford has the same qualities as Patrick Kluivert, Thomas Mueller, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, his former charges at Ajax, Bayern Munich and Barcelona respectively.
"A good manager should always try to have a mix of young and experienced players in his selection," Manchester United's manager said before today's FA Cup semi-final against Everton. "I believe in young players, and at all my clubs I have given them a chance, even when I started out at AZ Alkmaar.
"Then I went to Ajax and Kluivert, 18 years old, gave the same sort of performances as we are seeing from Rashford. I can give a lot of other examples of the same thing. Mueller at Bayern, Xavi and Iniesta and Barcelona. Age is not the issue, quality is more important."
Though Rashford has settled into the first team straight away and has hit seven goals in 13 appearances, van Gaal has warned that the 18-year-old is not the finished article.
England manager Roy Hodgson also sought to play down the hype surrounding the striker, suggesting that this summer's Euro 2016 will be a major tournament too soon for the teenager.
"As far as the first national team is concerned, it would be a very bold decision to put him in," said Hodgson, who will announce his provisional 23-man squad on May 12.
"It would mean possibly leaving someone behind who at the moment, in my opinion, has more reason to be called up."
Hodgson intends to take five out of his six established front players, with Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott figuring more prominently in his thoughts.
Walcott appears to be the most vulnerable after a disappointing season. But it is unlikely Rashford, having not even played for England's Under-21s, will get the call ahead of the Arsenal forward.