England manager Roy Hodgson has ruled out selecting Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford in his 23-man squad for the summer's European Championships. The 18-year-old has enjoyed a stunning breakthrough during the second half of the campaign, scoring seven goals in 13 starts for Louis van Gaal's side, leading to suggestions he could be a surprise inclusion in the squad.
Though the idea that Rashford, who made his England Under-20 debut against Canada in March, could be called-up is yet to be substantively endorsed Van Gaal says the youngster could cope with the pressure of the major finals after flourishing in the first team at Old Trafford. The former Fletcher Moss Rangers forward was initially drafted in as a last-minute replacement for the injured Anthony Martial but has quickly become first choice.
With United and England captain Wayne Rooney, Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane and Leicester City marksman Jamie Vardy all-but assured of filling three of the attacking positions in the squad, there would prospectively be room for Rashford should Hodgson fancy taking a wildcard to France. But the ex-Fulham and Liverpool has ruled out the move and would instead prefer the player to play for the England Under-21s in their Euro 2017 qualifying campaign before making the step up to the senior side.
"I think it would be a very bold decision to put him in and I think it would mean possibly leaving someone behind who, at the moment in my opinion, has more reason to be called up," he said, according to Sky Sports. "But you never know. The fact is it would be foolish as well to say 'no, no, he's not ready, he can't do it'. I am sure he could do it.
"I am sure if there was enough spaces available and if we were taking 30, we'd certainly probably be considering him. But when it's 23, and we've already got a bit of a headache with the front players as to who we might have to leave out.
"To put another one in there who is 18 years of age, has four or five games, is asking a lot. But I have been impressed with him. He wouldn't have kept his place in the United team if Louis van Gaal didn't think he was worthy of a place in the team. But it looks unlikely to me with the current players we've got and the competition for places in that area of the field."
Rashford was partnered with Rooney from the start for the first time during the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace and the pair are expected to be reunited in the United attack for the FA Cup semi-final against Everton. Rooney's role with England has come under scrutiny but Hodgson has assured his skipper of a place in his squad.
"There is no doubt his passion and energy is undimmed. I don't doubt that for one minute and, who knows, maybe we wouldn't be surprised if this speculation about him – should he playing or not be playing? – might be the type of thing that kicks into gear again. I can't compare him with 2004 but by comparing him in the four years we have been together, I haven't noticed any enormous difference. But 2004 is a long time ago."