Should Rashford start?

The Manchester United striker scored a stunning goal

Independent

Gareth Southgate coy over first-team selection after impressive win against Costa Rica

Gareth Southgate was coy when asked whether he knows his starting line-up for England's first World Cup game against Tunisia on June 18, saying: "I might sleep on it. "

However, the Three Lions boss hinted the two friendlies, including Thursday's assured 2-0 win over Costa Rica, and the build-up to Russia have given him food for thought, saying: "I'm really pleased with the three weeks' preparation, we've given ourselves a really good platform.

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Has Marcus Rashford played his way into England's first team?

By Joe Harker

England's friendly against Costa Rica was the final game for the Three Lions before the World Cup, representing the last chance for players to fight their way into contention for a place in the starting XI against Tunisia.

If the team Gareth Southgate picked against Nigeria was his first choice, this side was packed with backups and those who just needed to do a bit more to start. Only centre back John Stones started both games.

The game ended up being a 2-0 win for England, with Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck getting on the scoresheet. The former's goal was a thing of beauty, a long range shot that looped past Keylor Navas and flew into the net. It was a brilliant goal as the striker gave a man of the match performance and looked very comfortable in a central role. While Jamie Vardy was more often the focal point of the attack, Rashford was able to be everywhere. He drove the team forward and made a very convincing case for starting at the World Cup.

If Southgate does pick Rashford to start then the player who would likely miss out is Raheem Sterling. Both were selected to play as the second man in a strike partnership, though Sterling struggled where Rashford shone. Neither player has been hugely prolific for the Three Lions but Rashford's three goals in 19 games trumps Sterling's two in 38 appearances. The Manchester City winger has just had the best goalscoring season of his career but is yet to turn that into international goals.

Harry Kane is going to start, there is no doubt about that. The question is who plays alongside him as his partner. With a dazzling display against Costa Rica, Rashford has arguably done enough to play his way to the top of the pecking order. He has excelled when playing just off the main striker and Southgate described him as playing with a "swagger".

Rashford's brilliance has also been used as a chance to criticise Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. This season Rashford has spent most of his time as a left winger and when he does play as a striker he is on his own in a team geared towards the larger Romelu Lukaku. The Sun wonders why Mourinho hasn't played to Rashford's strengths.

Another player who started for England against Costa Rica who made a compelling case for inclusion is Danny Rose. The Tottenham Hotspur full back has found playing time for his club hard to come by but he is a natural in the left wing back position. Ashley Young has played more often but is right footed and not a natural full back. While he often has to stop and shift the ball onto his other foot for a cross, Rose can do it much quicker.

Of the players that started against Costa Rica and were trying to play their way into the starting lineup, Rashford would be the one most unlucky if he didn't start against Tunisia. He will feature for England at the World Cup and he has done enough to earn a starting role.

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