Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has urged Marcus Rashford to ‘prioritise his football’, ahead of the forward’s return to action against Leicester City this weekend.
The Manchester United boss has confirmed that the 23-year-old will be in Saturday’s squad, at least, for the trip to the King Power Stadium, in what could be his first appearance of the season having been absent thus far after undergoing shoulder surgery in August.
The England international had delayed the procedure in order to be a part of Gareth Southgate’s squad for Euro 2020, although went on to play a bit-part role throughout the tournament, with his major contribution being his spot-kick miss in the showpiece shootout defeat to Italy.
That international involvement had come after a gruelling campaign for the Manchester United academy product, as he continued to feature heavily despite lingering shoulder and ankle injuries, with those two issues seemingly taking their toll in the latter stages of last season.
Now fit and available again – and reportedly ‘pain free’ for the first time in just under two years – Rashford will be keen to get firing again and help give the Red Devils a timely boost ahead of what is a difficult run of fixtures in the next month or so.
Speaking about Rashford ahead of the clash with the Foxes, Solskjaer was full of praise for the work the player has done off the field – notably spearheading a campaign to end child hunger and poverty – although he admitted that now might be the time to ‘prioritise his football’ in order to become a regular fixture again for club and country.
“I know that we will see the best of Marcus in the years to come,” Solskjaer told the media. “He has done remarkable things at a young age but he is now coming into the best age for a footballer and he is more experienced. He has [had] time to reflect.
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“You know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things, and now to prioritise, maybe prioritise his football and focus on football because he’s got a challenge on his hands here at Manchester United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England.
“I think Marcus is one of those who takes up those challenges and is going to. He is going to express himself and his talent and he knows that we want a lot from him but we are going to give him the time to get back to what he was and what he can be.”
Saturday’s game could be Rashford’s first involvement for the club since the defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final back in May, with the United boss insisting that he looks refreshed and has perhaps benefitted from a brief time out of the game.
“He does look fresh, he looks keen. He’s bulked up a little, some muscle. Of course he had to bear a lot of the responsibility for us because we’ve had injuries and at such a young age he’s done so much for the team and he’s done so much off the pitch as well.
“The time away for him was the time maybe to focus on himself and, I don’t want to say get back to being himself, but Marcus Rashford running around with that enthusiasm, not having to take on too much responsibility, is a great sight to see. He comes back into a different team. He’s got Jadon [Sancho] here, Mason’s [Greenwood] grown, Cristiano [Ronaldo] is here.”