8 May 2018

Gareth Southgate Backs Marcus Rashford To Excel In Harry Kane’s Absence

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England manager Gareth Southgate believes Marcus Rashford has the big-game mentality which makes special from most of his national teammates. The Manchester United forward has been backed to shine in the upcoming friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy, where the Three Lions will be without the services of Harry Kane through an injury.

Speaking in a press conference, Southgate talked about the mentality of the United graduate, who played a significant role for England during the back-end of their World Cup qualifiers. The England boss was also in attendance to watch Rashford score a brace against Liverpool this month, and the 47-year-old feels the youngster is not fazed by the big occasions.

He said: “For me, the big thing about Marcus is his mentality. He’s a player who believes on the big stage, he’s committed to his job, he respects his sport in the way he trains and his professionalism and he always wants to get better. Therefore, he’s got that top mentality which is what we saw in Kane at that age as well. He’s mentally tough. The kids at United are brought up to have to play in front of 70,000 people so the big games don’t tend to faze them. They go in and that is part of the deal with playing for England. Certainly Marcus is a player we believe in.”

Rashford’s position with England was brought into question earlier in the year, where he was more of a regular substitute. However, in recent weeks, he has got better opportunities under Jose Mourinho with the most defining of the lot being against Liverpool, where he contributed a first-half brace in front of the Three Lions boss.

Kane has undoubtedly been the standout performer for England, having contributed seven goals in his last six caps for England, but his absence through an ankle injury allows Southgate to test his bench strength. The likes of Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck are likely to feature in the coming games with the latter under more pressure, given he has done very little since his return from a minor hip issue.