Marcus Rashford may have laid claim to a place at Euro 2016 within just three minutes of a remarkable debut, but England manager Roy Hodgson admits he still faces “sleepless nights” refining his final 23.
Rashford needed just 138 seconds of the 2-1 win over Australia to prove he can complete the journey from bolter to banker, volleying home after neat interplay with Raheem Sterling.
At 18 years and 208 days the Manchester United striker also became the country’s youngest debutant scorer and gave Hodgson a heavy nudge as he looks to cull the last two names from his training squad before Tuesday’s deadline.
The player also came top of our Player ratings from the match at the Stadium of Light.
Daniel Sturridge, reduced to a watching brief in the stands with a calf injury, is vulnerable to the rise of Rashford but Hodgson is also considering losing an extra midfielder.
“The subject of Marcus Rashford, I guess, will chop a few trees down,” noted Hodgson as he pondered the newspaper headlines his young protege would create.
“What a debut. I’m pleased for him. But I wasn’t surprised with the way he played. He was always one of the players who was seriously competing for a place in the 23 and he’s done his chances of travelling with us no harm.
“He tired towards the end; he was obviously feeling the pace and intensity of the game and that’s normal.
“Let’s wait and see…I’ve got until Tuesday to name my squad but he wouldn’t be out of place in anyone’s 23.
“I’ll have two or three more sleepless nights turning everything over in my head before I have to submit my list.”
Henderson on Rashford debut
Midfielder Jordan Henderson was one of those suitably impressed by his young team-mate’s Three Lions bow.
He told ITV: ”It’s incredible really isn’t it? That’s just the season that he’s had, he has no fear and wants the ball all the time, and to be fair it was a great finish.
“If he’s given the opportunity I’m sure he’ll do very well, but that’s up to the manager.”
When Fabian Delph suffered a groin problem during the week, he was immediately demoted to the standby list but Hodgson was careful to stress the same did not go for Sturridge.
“He’ll be doing extra training on Sunday and he’ll be throwing his hat into the ring,” said Hodgson.
“If it turns out his injury would keep him out the Euros or he would be unfit when we play Russia, that might make a difference.
“But I have no indication the seriousness of the injury is such it is putting his chances in jeopardy at all.”
After Wayne Rooney’s emphatic finish doubled England’s lead in the 55th minute, Eric Dier’s audition as defensive cover ended with him heading the ball into his own net.
“We wanted to give Eric a bit of a go at centre-back. After his goal tonight I’m tempted to give him a go at centre forward in the next game,” quipped his manager.