Marcus Rashford’s shock inclusion in England’s provisional 26 man squad for Euro 2016 has sparked a debate that has divided the country, should a man, who at the start of the season wasn’t even anywhere near to the Manchester United first team, and was completely unheard, even on the domestic stage, be considered for this summer’s European championship in France.
On current form, one must say that the youngster’s inclusion has caused more debate than anyone else’s within the 26 names in Hodgson’s summer squad. The debate is whether the inclusion of Rashford is too similar to the scenario of Theo Walcott’s inclusion in the 2006 World Cup squad. At the time, young Theo Walcott was unproven on the international stage but was given a place in Germany that summer. However, he never ventured onto the pitch and was considered a wasted pick within that England squad.
In my opinion, the situation surrounding Marcus Rashford is unlike Walcott in 2006, Rashford has been a regular for his club, having played a number of first-team games for Manchester United in a variety of competitions, including high-profile north-west derbies, the Europa league and Premier league. I believe that these experiences vastly outrank those of Walcott prior to the 2006 tournament. He had made just a handful of appearances for Southampton, none of which were in this calibre of competition.
The next argument against taking the young Manchester United striker is simply that there are better options available, while it is true that there are better attacking options, Rashford has displayed a versatility enabling himself to play on either wing as well as through the middle and I feel he could also contribute in the number 10 role. This versatility may enable him to replace players such as Jack Wilshire, who has been unfit for the majority of the season and has made just a single Premier league start this season. He also offers a much more attacking option than some other potential England suitors. For example, James Milner who I see as a player who can put in a workmanlike performance but however lacks the flair of a player of Rashford’s ability.
Some argue that taking an uncapped and unproven youngster to a tournament is not appropriate as it is too much of a risk and puts too much pressure on young player’s shoulders. However, I do not feel this argument is valid, due to the fact that no matter what time we choose to bring a player into the international setup there is always going to be pressure and eventually in a country such as England the player must be ready to play international football and even make their tournament debut. If a player has the ability, it is my opinion that he should be allowed the opportunity to showcase their talent on the international stage.
In conclusion, I feel that Marcus Rashford’s involvement in the tournament should depend on his performance in the international friendlies prior to the cutting of the squad to 23 players. I feel Hodgson must play him in order to properly ascertain if he is ready to compete in tournament football this summer.