Manchester United's teenage striker Marcus Rashford.
Manchester United's teenage striker Marcus Rashford. Alastair Grant

In-form Rashford unlikely to start in derby

FOOTBALL: Scoring a hat-trick for England's under-21s this week has not been enough to convince Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho that Marcus Rashford should return to the starting line-up for tonight's derby with Manchester City, with reports suggesting the teenager will remain on the substitutes' bench.

Rashford, 18, was dropped down to the under-21s after featuring in the senior set-up during Euro 2016, and responded by striking three goals in the 6-1 victory over Norway's under-21s. With Rashford currently out of the United starting line-up, many expected the hat-trick to be enough to persuade Mourinho that the young Englishman should start, possibly in place of out-of-form forward Anthony Martial.

The 20-year-old has not scored this season and suffered a frustrating Euro 2016 campaign that appears to have robbed him of his confidence. The Frenchman has been deployed on the left of Mourinho's three-man support for Zlatan Ibrahmovic, but he was withdrawn after an hour in the recent Premier League match against Hull, while Rashford came off the substitutes' bench to replace Juan Mata and score the winner in the 1-0 victory.

With Rashford already off the mark for the season despite playing just 19 minutes of competitive football since Mourinho took over in the summer, United fans have called on the Portuguese to find space for Rashford in the starting line-up. Given that Ibrahimovic has hit the ground running at Old Trafford with three goals in his first four matches, Mourinho is unlikely to replace the Swede, and Mata has also made an impressive start to the season, leaving either Wayne Rooney or Martial at risk of being dropped.

That prospect is unlikely though as reports suggest that Rashford will have to make do with a place among the replacements for the Manchester derby, meaning Mourinho is likely to go into the crunch match against Pep Guardiola's side with an unchanged line-up - providing Marouane Fellaini and Luke Shaw come through late fitness tests.


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