England under-21 manager Gareth Southgate claims Marcus Rashford‘s selection to play for his group rather than the senior side is not a demotion.
Rashford become the youngest player to score on his England senior debut when he found the back of the net in May and went on to make two substitute appearances for Roy Hodgson’s side at Euro 2016.
However, he was not picked for Sam Allardyce’s first squad for the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Slovakia after not picking up consistent football at Old Trafford.
Speaking about Rashford, Southgate insists it’s a chance for him to start matches and gain experience.
“It is not a demotion to be with the U21s, not at all,” he said.
“It is a chance for him to start matches and it is a valuable experience, playing for your country, at any level and Marcus will benefit from it.
“Many have already benefited from their time with the U21s and to be part of the squad that goes to Russia [for the World Cup in 2018] should be his target — along with the other players I have with me.
“Marcus has one hell of a future and, with the U21s, hopefully, we can help him develop his potential.”
Rashford was a regular starter for United last season under Louis van Gaal but has only been used once in the league so far as a substitute against Hull City, where he scored the only goal of the game.
Playing with the U21s will give him the opportunity to start consistently and develop as a striker rather than picking up some game-time here and there on the senior side.