Wayne Rooney (left) and Marcus Rashford
Wayne Rooney (left) has backed Marcus Rashford to become a star at Old TraffordGetty Images

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has been surprised by Marcus Rashford's remarkable rise – but thinks he will become a "real star". The 18-year-old forward has been a stand-out performer in the United squad since he made his first-team debut in the Europa League last season, and Rooney has admitted his dramatic impact has come as a shock.

Rashford has scored in each of United's last two games, against Watford and Northampton Town respectively, and could start the Reds' Premier League fixture against current champions Leicester City on Saturday (24 September). Ahead of the match, Rooney has cited Rashford's refreshingly open-minded approach as the key to his success.

"Marcus is incredible. He was thrown in last season when we, the other players, weren't sure he was ready. But he was thrown into the (Midtjylland) game and got two goals. Since then, he hasn't looked back," Rooney told United's in-house TV station MUTV.

"I think his attitude is fantastic. He wants to work, he wants to learn and some of the younger players nowadays in football haven't really got that attitude. It's great to see and he's getting his rewards for it. He is some talent and, if he keeps going, he'll be a real star for this club and for England."

The United youngster is learning from the likes of Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford this season. However, Rooney also stressed that Rashford needs to be given the opportunity to forge his own path at United.

"We encourage him but, with players like that, you just want to let them play. You don't want to teach them how to play football because they can," he said ahead of United's crunch game against Leicester. "You want them to play and express themselves – what you're seeing is Marcus expressing himself and scoring goals, which is great for the team."