Southgate praises Rashford's mentality

Marcus Rashford

England Under-21 manager Gareth Southgate has praised Marcus Rashford’s mentality ahead of his debut against Norway on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old was part of England’s senior squad at Euro 2016 but has never been picked for the Under-21s before.

Sam Allardyce left him out of England’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.

Southgate said: “You would think he had been with us for a longer period of time. That is testimony to the mentality he has arrived here with.”

There has been a debate about whether Allardyce was correct in his treatment of Rashford, who scored his first goal of the season with a last-minute winner at Hull on 28 August.

Southgate used the example of other England senior internationals who have moved between the senior and Under-21 squads recently to show the progress of young players is not straightforward.

He said: “They have to get used to dealing with the highs but also being challenged.

“Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Eric Dier, Dele Alli are all still eligible for the Under-21s. You could ask any of them, at any given time, where are they at. They might be being written off or be as high as a kite.

“As a young professional, dealing with those things determines how far you go.”

What is the plan for Rashford?

Rashford was eligible for this summer’s European Under-19 Championships but was not considered for selection after being chosen for Euro 2016.

Next year, he qualifies for both the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea, where England have already booked their place amongst the 24 competing nations, and the European Under-21 Championships, which they are well placed to qualify for.

Southgate said: “It is difficult to have a plan.

“The leaps can be so quick and you are never sure when it is going to happen.

“We know exactly where we are this week. Moving forward depends on how they play with their clubs and what injuries there might be and the performance of the senior team as well.”

England on a high

England go into the game on a high after winning the prestigious Toulon tournament for the first time in 22 years.

Southgate said: “That was an experience the players will take with them forever.

“They are all keen for more. It is about understanding why you won. We have analysed that with them and they are ready for the challenge of the qualifiers.”

What do England have to do to get to Poland?

With three games remaining in Group Nine, England are level with Switzerland – who have played a game more – and are one point in front of Norway.

As Norway and Switzerland still have to meet, England should get a top-two slot, which would at least get them into the play-offs.

Victory in Colchester on Tuesday would leave them needing to win one of their final two games, against already-eliminated pair Kazhakstan and Bosnia next month, to secure automatic qualification for next year’s finals in Poland.

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