Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says he could be forced into a ‘club v country’ row with the FA if Marcus Rashford is called up to play in next summer’s European Under-21 Championship in Poland.
The forward, who turns 19 later this month, has made five appearances for the England senior team in 2016, including substitute appearances in the two recent World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia.
But the FA’s chief executive, Martin Glenn, is keen for England to send the best possible squad out to the youth event next summer, meaning Rashford could be forced to take part regardless of whether he remains an established first-team member in the intervening months.
Yet Mourinho has reacted strongly to the suggestion that Rashford might be called up to the under-21 squad simply to gain better results rather than to progress his development in any way.
“The reports you speak about didn’t arrive in my office, so we don’t know [whether Rashford will be considered],” the United manager told the media on Wednesday. “We are in mid-October, the championships will be in the summer and I think we have to wait until the summer.
“If the player becomes a regular and established in the ‘A’ national team, if you want to call it that, to then say it is important for his development that he plays for the under-21s makes no sense. He would be playing just to get a result.”
Interim England boss Gareth Southgate called Rashford up for under-21 duty in September when then-national coach Sam Allardyce overlooked the striker, but he was then picked for full national duty when Southgate succeeded Allardyce.
And Mourinho is insistent that a discussion will need to be had with England team officials if Rashford is asked to step down to the youth side for the finals in Poland.
“Let’s see what happens. If he is an under-21 player in the national team then there is no discussion, but if he becomes a regular choice for Gareth Southgate in the national team then we have to speak because we don’t want him to have contradictions.”
Rashford has become a regular starter once more at Old Trafford in recent weeks, starting six of the last seven United fixtures and scoring three goals.