Gareth Southgate sends clear message to Rashford as star returns to England squad after New York trip in March | The SunJune 19, 2023
GARETH SOUTHGATE has sent a clear message to Marcus Rashford ahead of England's European Championships next summer.
The Manchester United forward caused controversy in March when he pulled out of the squad with injury only to post snaps from a holiday to New York on his Instagram days later.
And while Southgate defended Rashford's decision at the time, he said he expects his squad to make themselves as available as possible for international duty as England prepare for Euro 2024.
Rashford, 25, pulled up with an injury in the closing stages of United's 2-1 FA Cup final defeat to Manchester City and there was talk that this could see him miss England's post-season camp.
But the forward has joined up with the squad for England's qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia – despite nursing a hip injury.
Southgate was asked by The Mirror whether he expected players nursing injuries to join up with the squad as they prepare for next summer's Euros.
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He said: “We’ve talked to the players about commitment being an important factor over the next 18 months.
"The more players that are here, they can hear the messages from the games that we play.
“So I think Marcus is pleased that he has been able to work with our medical team and make a lot of progress in this period of time. We were always hoping this would be the case.
“A lot of players pull out during the season, almost ahead of a camp, when you’ve got two games and then you can be okay for the second game if everything aligns.
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"Equally, during a season that’s more complex because clubs have games coming up and the dynamic is a little bit different.
“Part of being a team is the rest of your teammates recognising you are in on this.
"Just by spending time with them, you get better relationships and communication to create more of a feeling of togetherness.
“It is harder to achieve that internationally than with a club because you just don’t spend the time.
"The spirit is a fundamental part of being a winning team.”
Rashford enjoyed a stellar year for United last season where he returned 17 Premier League goals and five assists in his 35 Premier League appearances.
It was his best return since the 2019-20 season.
He also impressed for England at The World Cup in Qatar, where he scored three goals despite largely being a substitute.
There is a feeling that if the forward is to nail down a place in the XI going forward he will need to be available for England camps during the season.
Rashford last played a friendly game for England against Romania in 2021 and before his substitute appearance against Malta on Friday, his last 10 appearances for England had all came at major tournaments.
Southgate expects Rashford to play against North Macedonia tonight and said: "We’ve always had good communication, I know him as well as anybody is going to know him.
"He does love playing for England, he’s very proud to play for England and I’m sure an England game at Old Trafford will be a special moment for him."
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