Rashford remains under England consideration as Southgate bemoans lack of game-time

·3-min read

Marcus Rashford remains "under consideration" for an England recall, though Gareth Southgate conceded the lack of game-time for several key players is "not ideal".

In the last national squad before the Qatar 2022 World Cup, there was no place for Manchester United attacker Rashford and club-mate Jadon Sancho.

Rashford is, however, struggling with a muscular problem. The 25-year-old has been in strong for this season, scoring three Premier League goals in six appearances.

A maiden call-up for Brentford attacker Ivan Toney and a recall for Tottenham's Eric Dier were among the more eye-catching inclusions by Southgate, who stressed the door is not shut for those others seeking a return to the fold in time to make the World Cup squad.

"There were certain players we wanted to keep involved this time, but that said, it doesn't mean that this is the end for some of the others who aren't involved," he stated.

"Marcus Rashford, for example, has shown some encouraging signs recently. He is a player we know well so if he can perform at a high level in the next few weeks, he of course will be under consideration."

Several of Southgate's regular squad members made the cut, such as United duo Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, alongside Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips, all of whom have struggled for minutes this season.

Their crucial impact on last year's Euro 2020 campaign, however, has swayed Southgate, though he acknowledged it is not a "perfect situation".

"Clearly, we have a number of players including Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips who are not playing a lot of minutes with their club," he added.

"It is not ideal, but we feel they have been, and can be, important players for us. It is not a perfect situation, but there is still a lot of football to be played before Qatar.

Tottenham defender Dier ends a two-year absence from the national set-up, having been a member of the team that travelled to the 2018 World Cup, with Toney a new face altogether.

"With Eric, he has been playing well for a period of time," Southgate added. "We think it is a really close call across our centre-backs, and he has deserved to be picked back in the group.

"We know what a good character he is. He fits in with the culture and has great international experience and leadership qualities.

"With Ivan Toney, we have been tracking him for a long time. I had a good chat with Thomas Frank about him last season.

"His form and his qualities – not only his goalscoring but his technical ability, build-up play and aerial prowess – gives us a different threat to some of the other players we could pick."

England travel to Italy in a Euro 2020 final rematch before returning to Wembley to face Germany in their two Nations League encounters before the World Cup.