Marcus Rashford
Rashford has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence this yearGetty

Manchester United starlet Marcus Rashford could have finished the season playing for Crewe Alexandra in the third tier of English football had first-team coach James Collins had his way.

An injury to Anthony Martial saw 18-year-old Rashford, then an unknown quantity outside Old Trafford, thrown into the first-team in February. Since then, he has enjoyed a phenomenal rise, scoring nine goals in 15 appearances and winning a spot in England's Euro 2016 squad.

However, it could have all been so different for the teenage striker.

"I spoke to Warren Joyce [United U21 coach] earlier in the season about taking him on loan," Collins was quoted as saying by the Crewe Chronicle.

"Warren said we couldn't because they needed him for their U21s. A week later he made his debut for the first team and the rest is history."

Rashford began the season in United's Under-18 ranks but with James Wilson, Will Keane and later Ashley Fletcher leaving United on loan during the season, the youngster was promoted to Joyce's Under-21 side.

Rashford was the club's only option at centre-forward when Martial suffered an injury just before a Europa League showdown with Danish club Midtjylland with former United boss Louis van Gaal winning praise for placing his trust in the youngster. Crewe boss Collins believes other clubs need to be more willing to place their faith in their own talent.

"Marcus Rashford could easily still be languishing in United U18s because the manager hadn't put him in," Collins said.

"But whatever you say about [Louis] Van Gaal this season, he threw them in, maybe through injury. He has took his chance, fair play to the kid. How many other Marcus Rashfords are there out there in these academies? I think quite a lot.

"It is a big debate, but as far as I am concerned there needs to be a rule change. There needs to be a certain quota of English players in Premier League teams."