Marcus Rashford’s selflessness is a major help to the England cause | Andy Hunter

Gareth Southgate’s faith in the forward was rewarded by a mature performance against Bulgaria that was all about helping his teammates

When Harry Kane scores seven goals in training at St George’s Park, Marcus Rashford imagines scoring eight. The reality against Bulgaria was somewhat different and the imagination is likely to remain where the Manchester United forward out-scores the England captain given their respective roles in Gareth Southgate’s side. Kane’s hat-trick, however, did not disguise the reality of how important Rashford is to England. He was goalless, frustrated but crucial to breaking Bulgaria and maintaining Southgate’s stroll towards Euro 2020.

Stationed on the left against a five-man defence and without opportunity to even argue over penalty-taking duties for his country, unlike for his club, the United striker had no option but to leave thoughts of hat-tricks and headlines to the man in the centre. But Rashford’s selflessness was not lost on Kane or the manager. In trying contests such as this, when opponents retreat en masse in recognition of England’s varied attacking options, the pace, movement and awareness of the 21-year-old can prove invaluable. He may have lacked the goals of Kane or the finesse of Raheem Sterling but Rashford responded impressively to the internal competition for places that is currently fiercer than England’s Group A rivals. As Kane reflected: “When I’m playing with players like Raz [Sterling] and Rashford they’re going to create so many chances. They are so good one v one and so skilful that they’re going to win penalties.”

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