Gareth Southgate has vowed to protect Marcus Rashford by keeping him away from European Under-21 Champs
GARETH SOUTHGATE has vowed to protect Marcus Rashford — by keeping him away from the European Under-21 Championships.
The England manager yesterday selected the Manchester United striker, 19, in the senior squad for internationals against Scotland and France in June.
Southgate initially wanted Rashford to then link up with Aidy Boothroyd for the Euros next month in Poland but fears the player could suffer burn-out.
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The U-turn will be celebrated by United boss Jose Mourinho, who did not want his starlet overdoing it after playing 58 matches already this season.
Harry Kane, having burst on to the senior scene two years ago, dropped down into the Under-21s for the same tournament in Portugal but looked tired.
Instead Rashford, who has already won eight caps, will face Scotland in a World Cup qualifier on June 10 before the squad heads to Paris for a friendly three days later.
Southgate said: “He had one game with the U21s when I was there in September and was outstanding. But he’s not really been part of the U21 squad.
“His performances warrant him being in the senior squad.
“The question then is — could he have gone with the U21s after that? In my opinion, no.
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“He’s had an exceptional season and by then will have had virtually 60 matches.
“Somebody has to manage the development of a young player and that is my call.
“There are lots of different objectives around what we’d like to do as an organisation and what we’d like to win. But, as the senior manager, I’ve got to make that call.”
U21s boss Boothroyd has invited 28 players to a St George’s Park training camp next week ahead of going to Poland.
Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse, who have made their senior debuts under Southgate, will stay with the youngsters.
Southgate added: “I’m very conscious of the development teams and their success is a very important part of what we want to do.
“We still want to fulfil that and that’s why the likes of Ward-Prowse and Redmond are back with the U21s now.”
Arsenal have won the battle for striker Danny Welbeck to avoid an England call-up — even though he could play in the FA Cup final tomorrow if he overcomes a foot injury.
Equally, Southgate has decided against picking Daniel Sturridge, who starred for Liverpool in a friendly in Sydney on Wednesday despite a hip problem.
Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier gets a first call-up and Stoke keeper Jack Butland returns after recovering from an ankle injury suffered against Germany in March 2016.
Burnley centre-back Michael Keane misses out with a calf problem and Everton’s Ross Barkley has not been selected.
Harry Kane has missed all six of Southgate’s matches in charge but could be captain against the Scots.