Football: Rashford locked in for World Cup

In Marcus Rashford's first United start since December, the England forward scored twice as the Red Devils defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Mar 10.
In Marcus Rashford's first United start since December, the England forward scored twice as the Red Devils defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Mar 10.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has revealed that Marcus Rashford will be at this year's World Cup regardless of how much playing time he gets at Manchester United.

In Rashford's first United start since December, the England forward scored twice as the Red Devils defeated Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday.

United manager Mourinho told BBC: "I spoke with Gareth Southgate a few weeks ago and Gareth told me it doesn't matter if he plays or he doesn't play. He trusts the kid and the kid goes to the World Cup."

England manager Southgate was at Old Trafford to see Rashford score his 11th and 12th goals from 40 appearances in all competitions this season, with six of those coming in the league.

The 20-year-old has now scored seven of his 16 Premier League goals against top-six teams, proving his appetite for the big occasions.

His pace, which put Liverpool's 19-year-old right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold under constant pressure, and work-rate were also evident on Saturday.

"It was a big game; we trusted him, and he showed his qualities," Mourinho said. "Today, we felt Marcus' speed would be important and, with (Anthony) Martial injured... it was a straight choice."

Yet, had it not been for an impact injury suffered by Paul Pogba in what Mourinho described as "the final minute" of training on Friday, there was every chance Rashford would have been sidelined once more.

Rashford's return to form could not have come at a better time for United - who face another two crucial games this week when Sevilla and Brighton visit in the Champions League and FA Cup respectively.

He is pushing for just his third start in the Champions League this season after coming on as a 74th-minute substitute in the last-16, first-leg clash at Sevilla, which ended goal-less.

Said Rashford of making the most of his limited minutes: "It's partly been patience but you have to be ready for your chance."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2018, with the headline 'Rashford locked in for World Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe