Marcus Rashford hammers down the door with England hat-trick
Teenage sensation sends stunning message to Jose Mourinho and Sam Allardyce - but will he play in Manchester derby?
Manchester United sensation Marcus Rashford marked his debut for England Under-21 with a stunning hat-trick to provide yet more proof of his deadly potential.
The teenage striker has scored on his Premier League, Europa League, England and England Under-21 debuts, underlining the United star's status as the most exciting English forward for a generation.
Rashford's three goals helped England U21 humble Norway 6-1 and sent a firm message to national boss Sam Allardyce that he may want to revise his opinion that he's not yet ready for the senior squad.
Rashford was controversially axed from Allardyce's team that laboured to a 1-0 win in Slovakia at the weekend, but his performance on Tuesday night will make it hard for Big Sam for omit him from the squad to face Malta and Slovenia next month given the lacklustre performance of Harry Kane.
"It means a lot [that Allardyce was here watching]," said Rashford, who scored on his senior England debut, under former manager Roy Hodgson, against Australia in May. "Everyone is working hard to get into that side, so it was important that he was here to see our development."
Rashford's hat-trick heroics will also be a timely reminder to club manager Jose Mourinho, who has yet to hand the teenager a start this season for Manchester United. "That's all you want to do as a young player, give your manager a decision about whether to play you," said Rashford, when asked if he hoped he'd done enough to win a place in the United XI for Saturday's clash with Manchester City. So far this season under Mourinho Rashford has been given just 18 minutes of Premier League action although in that brief time he scored against Hull.
Rashford will obviously encounter sterner opposition than Norway's U21 side but he again showed impressive composure, vision and athleticism in shredding the opposition defence. His speed allowed him to get in behind the Norwegian defence for his first goal and his second came from a delightful chip before he sealed his hat-trick with a coolly-taken penalty. "I'd say the penalty was my favourite, to be honest," said Rashford, when asked to pick his best goal of the three. "It was the first penalty I have scored since I have been a professional."
Rashford perhaps could have had more goals if U21 manager Gareth Southgate hadn't withdrawn him from the fray with ten minutes remaining. By that time Norway were dead and buried, and Southgate had nothing but praise for their chief executioner. "I'm delighted for him," he said. "He came with great humility. He's young, so you hope that's going to be the case, but it's a complex journey if you've been up to the senior team and then come down. I think he's enjoyed the week."