Can Rashford return to England squad for 2022 World Cup?

Marcus Rashford has had a welcome return to form at the start of the 2022/23 Premier League season.

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has trusted the 24-year-old to lead the line for the Red Devils in the final third to spearhead the attack ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. Although the opening two matches of the season were a disaster for United and their new manager, their response since their 4-0 hammering at the hands of Brentford has been very encouraging. Rashford has epitomised the work ethic and clinical edge that United have displayed to get back to winning ways into contention for the top four.

Rashford opened his account for the season with a good finish in United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool. The forward was then on point in a 3-1 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford, bringing back memories of his Premier League debut. In 2016 against the Gunners, Rashford scored twice and provided an assist for Ander Herrera in a 3-2 triumph under Louis van Gaal.

Under a different Dutch manager, Rashford scored twice with neat finishes and provided an incisive pass for Antony to notch a debut goal for the Red Devils. After scoring his second Rashford had a huge smile on his face, which has been absent for a long period of time. The 24-year-old has suffered significantly due to United’s underachievement on the field.

Rashford was buoyant and enthusiastic when he burst onto the scene in 2016, taking the Premier League by storm. He was on a trajectory to become an elite striker in the top flight but has faded over the last couple of seasons, and the move to bring Ronaldo back to the club was a head-scratcher as it pushed the forward out of his comfort zone. In the 2021/22 season, he scored only four goals in the Premier League in 25 appearances. After six matches in the 2022/23 season, he has scored three. His confidence has returned and that is a very good sign not only for Ten Hag but also for Gareth Southgate.

Rashford does need a double redemption package this term for both club and country. His penalty miss against Italy in the Euro 2020 penalty shootout swung the momentum of the shootout into favour of the Azzurri, spurning the chance to put England into a 3-1 lead. That miss appeared to weigh on his mind throughout the last campaign, and his form dropped so much that he was left out of Southgate’s squad towards the end of the season. Now that he has found his touch in front of goal, Rashford is an asset to England once more. If you think that England is going to be a compelling option to win the World Cup in Qatar, you can bet and play here, where you will find that the Three Lions are backed at 7/1 in the World Cup odds.

Southgate will need options off the bench to support Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling in the final third. Outside of Kane and Sterling, England is not blessed with proven goalscorers at a high level. His return to form will be welcomed by Southgate, especially considering that the forward is being trusted to play through the middle of the team and not out wide. If he continues the standard of his current form, the 2022/23 season could be the term that Rashford launches his comeback into the top striker he seemed destined to become.

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