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'I'm not certain Rashford is happiest as a No.9' - Southgate believes Man Utd star is more suited to a wide role

10:18 AM WAT 09/09/2019
Marcus Rashford Manchester United 2019-20
The England boss sees the 21-year-old as more of a natural winger than a centre-forward, but he is not yet "certain" how best to utilise his talents

England boss Gareth Southgate has expressed his belief that Marcus Rashford "does his best work" in wider areas, despite having risen to prominence as a No. 9 for Manchester United

The Red Devils ace has been given plenty of opportunities playing through the middle in his career to date, but has often been accused of lacking a clinical edge in the final third of the pitch.

Rashford has netted a modest 47 goals in 174 appearances across all competitions for United and has found himself pushed out onto the left at the start of the 2019-20 season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has decided to use Anthony Martial as his first-choice striker, having recognised his natural ability to lead the line during the first nine months of his Old Trafford tenure.

Southgate also prefers to deploy Rashford in a wide role at international level, insisting that he can cause more damage to opposition defences when "coming off the line".

Ahead of a Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo on Tuesday, the Three Lions boss stated: "For a long time we have almost wanted Marcus to be that option as a no .9, but I’m still not certain that is where he is happiest and where he does his best work.

“Marcus is still relatively young. Over the last 12 to 18 months with us, he’s had a big impact on our games with a number of goals and assists. So, I think he’s still a work in progress.

“A lot of his development at United was as a ‘wide raider’ and I think he isn’t as strong as Harry Kane with his back to goal holding play up.

“If he plays as a no. 9, he will play it differently to Harry, but a lot of his best work is on the left coming in off the line.

“I don’t think that’s a problem; we have to be aware that’s probably his profile to get the best out of him, they’re the areas that he needs to get in.”

Rashford played the full 90 minutes for England during a 4-0 win over Bulgaria at Wembley on Saturday, but failed to get his name on the scoresheet, with a Harry Kane hat-trick and a Raheem Sterling effort securing the three points for Southgate's men.

The United star opened his account for the new season with a brace in a 4-0 victory over Chelsea on August 11, but failed to add to his tally in three subsequent fixtures.

Rashford's last goal on the international stage came in a UEFA Nations League semi-final clash against the Netherlands back in June, which marked his seventh strike in 33 appearances for his country.

He will likely be granted the chance to end his scoring drought in Kosovo, before returning to Old Trafford to prepare for the Red Devils' latest Premier League clash against Leicester on Saturday.