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‘Very surprised’: Michael Owen explains why he disagrees with Rashford’s England snub

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Even the most biased Manchester United supporter would probably have to admit that Gareth Southgate’s explanation for leaving Marcus Rashford out of his preliminary England squad for Euro 2024 made sense.

Following a poor campaign at club level under Erik ten Hag – and coupled with the consistent excellence of fellow forwards Anthony Gordon, Ollie Watkins, Jarrod Bowen and Phil Foden – it may have been difficult to justify a place in his roster for a man who has scored fewer than each of the aforementioned quartet across 2023/24.

Rashford, in the space of just 12 months, has seen his goals tally fall from 30 to eight. Arguably no player – well, apart from Casemiro maybe – sums up the difference between Ten Hag’s first campaign at Manchester United and his second.

Marcus Rashford of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on May 15, 2024...

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

“These are, of course, difficult calls,” Southgate told talkSPORT (21 May, 2pm) when asked to explain his reason for leaving Rashford at home.

“You’re talking about very good players, and who have been important part in what we’ve done over a number of years.”

“I just feel that players in those positions had better seasons (than Rashford),” the former Middlesbrough captain adds. “It is as simple as that.”

Now, Michael Owen’s X page does not usually make for particularly enthralling reading. Unless you’ve got a particular interest in his Movember updates or share a similar distaste for the works of film.

But the one-time Man United and England striker does make an uncharacteristically intriguing point when reflecting on Rashford’s omission.

“Very surprised Gareth Southgate has left Marcus Rashford out of his squad,” Owen writes on X. “Granted, he’s had a poor season by his standards. But tournament football is different, and he’s always been confident in an England shirt.”

In a squad packed full of talented playmakers and footballers who love to drop deep and receive the ball in pockets of space, Owen cannot help but wonder if Rashford’s speed and his ability to run in behind is an attribute the Three Lions will end up missing, even if Watkins does that job pretty impressively himself.

Furthermore, Rashford has the international experience and pedigree that few others in Southgate’s roster possess. Lest we forget, he was England’s joint-top scorer at the 2022 Qatar World Cup with three, level with Arsenal talisman Bukayo Saka.

“We’ve many talented attacking players,” Owen adds. “But very few with Rashford’s pace.

“In such a big squad, he was worth the risk.”

  • READ MORE: Who is Marcus Rashford? Inside the life of Man Utd’s book-writing, government-tackling ace

Luke Shaw’s Euro 2024 place in doubt

While Rashford was omitted, Southgate did include Kobbie Mainoo – the teenager so impressive on his full debut against Belgium in March – alongside Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.

The latter, however, may be one of the unlucky seven cut from the final squad when Southgate reduces it from 33 to 26. Shaw has not featured for Man United since February due to injury, and is also facing a race against time ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final re-match with Manchester City at Wembley.

“I have to say, he’s up against it,” Southgate says, albeit while keen to give his first-choice left-back every chance to prove his fitness (TalkSPORT, 21 May, 2pm).

“He has missed a lot of football. The fact that he has been our first choice in that position, we are probably giving him a bit more (time) than we might have done. But I am not sure whats realistic at this moment at time.”

“I will talk with (Shaw), the medical team. I will liaise with Manchester United closely.”

  • READ MORE: Who is Luke Shaw? Inside the life of Manchester United’s flying English full-back

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