Roy Hodgson has been “very impressed” by Marcus Rashford but warned the Manchester United teenager is likely to miss out on Euro 2016 given the wealth of options available to the England manager.
The 18-year-old’s recent emergence has been astonishing, having gone from a relative unknown at United to become one of the country’s most-talked about players.
Rashford has netted seven goals in 13 appearances, leading some to suggest the teenager should be fast-tracked into the England squad for this summer’s European Championship in France.
However, while the Three Lions boss has not closed the door on the player, the attacking strength in depth at Hodgson’s disposal means Rashford will probably have to wait his turn.
“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,” Hodgson said.
“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 – Who can we take? Who might we 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.”
Rashford’s rapid rise
Nobody could have foreseen this scenario when the United teenager was drafted into the starting line-up against FC Midtjylland following Anthony Martial’s injury during the warm-up – with Van Gaal admitting himself that the player was not ready for his first-team call-up.
Rashford flourished rather than froze on his debut in late February and followed that Europa League brace with another pair at Old Trafford when Arsenal arrived days later.
Decisive goals against Manchester City and Aston Villa, as well as a stunning opener in last week’s FA Cup quarter-final replay at West Ham, have seen his star rise further.
“He’s kept his place in the team and that’s the crucial factor,” Hodgson said at an England media briefing ahead of Euro 2016.
“He wouldn’t have kept his place in the team if Louis van Gaal didn’t think he was worthy of a place in the team, so he has definitely gone beyond that.
“But where he actually wants to make his mark, that’s where we have a lot of players at the moment and I might even find myself having to leave out someone who is a lot more experienced, has been longer on the scene and will create more of a stir if I didn’t put him in the 23 than a Rashford.
“Does he have a very bright future? Is it inconceivable that he could go with England? No, it’s not inconceivable but it looks unlikely to me with the current players we’ve got and the competition for places in that area of the field.”