When Jose Mourinho took over at Manchester United, one of the main concerns was how their best young players would cope. The Special One has an infamously poor record when it comes to blooding youth and has historically stifled a number of talented starlets in favour of experience.
And the early signs are that he will be going about things in much the same way at Old Trafford with Adnan Januzaj, James Wilson and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson all leaving the club on loan. Marcus Rashford has so far kept his place in Mourinho's plans but it is probably not in the role he was hoping for.
The 18-year-old scored eight goals in 18 appearances for Manchester United last season and earned his place in England's Euro 2016 squad as a result. While Roy Hodgson's men failed to impress in France, Rashford's performances from the bench were one of the few positives.
But much has changed since then. Not only has Hodgson been replaced by Sam Allardyce but Rashford has been demoted to the role of a squad player at club level.
Indeed, Rashford is yet to play in a Premier League game under Mourinho and Allardyce believes the teenager cannot play for England unless he wins his place back.
Allardyce said, according to the Daily Mail: "The difficulty is Rashford’s not playing. It makes it harder for me to select him, as exciting as he was last year, bursting onto the scene.
"I could say ‘go and play for the Under 21s’ get used to international football there and that will help you eventually break into the Manchester United team and eventually the England team. I’ve got all those scenarios to consider."
For Rashford, playing time at Manchester United may be thin on the ground if Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues his rich vein of form. The Swede, who joined from Paris Saint-Germain this summer, has scored four goals in three starts for United, including a brace against Southampton last weekend.
At 34, Ibrahimovic is unlikely to play in every game but even then Rashford will have to compete with Wayne Rooney. It leaves Rashford looking at a season on the sidelines but he will be buoyed by the fact that he has such experienced strikers to learn from.
A recent story from The Sun claimed Ibrahimovic had agreed to stay behind after training to give Rashford some tips on shooting.
A United source revealed: “Zlatan has been staying behind at end of regular training sessions working on his shooting and free-kicks. Zlatan looks to be someone who will be good at coaching the youngsters. He has a natural ability to teach and wants to help them improve.
“These sessions have been helping Rashford a lot, as he is only just starting out in what is going to be a long career for him.”
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