This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Writing in The Daily Mirror, Stan Collymore has suggested Marcus Rashford risks becoming the new Theo Walcott if he doesn’t nail down a position in the near future.
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Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate re-opened the debate over Rashford’s best position after the game against Bulgaria, and now, Collymore has insisted the time has come for the 21-year-old to define what he is.
He said: “If Marcus Rashford isn’t careful then, sooner rather than later, he is going to find himself cast as the modern-day Theo Walcott. Someone who isn’t seen as an out-and-out winger or straight-up No.9 but a Jack of all trades as a forward and master of none.
“That’s why now is the perfect time for him to decide whether that’s the way he wants to go. Or would he rather be a player who lives or dies as a No.9.
“If he’s happy to play anywhere if it means being an England regular then that’s his call. But if that is the case over the next five to 10 years then I worry about the negative impact such a decision could have on his club career because of the message it sends. There’s no way Rashford can toddle off with England every few months and play out wide and then go back to Old Trafford and play like Ruud van Nistelrooy. So there’s a potential problem brewing for him.”
Being as versatile as Rashford is, there are always going to be times where he gets shunted out of his preferred role in order to accommodate one of his teammates. As Collymore says, it may be the perfect time however for the United academy product to take a stand.
If Southgate intends to use Harry Kane as England’s out-and-out centre-forward and only sees Rashford as someone to use off the flanks, then it may be in the latter’s best interests to put his foot down.
Making a definitive statement that he is a number nine would allow him to hone his craft far more effectively than if he were to stand by his versatility. This promises to be a crucial juncture in the 21-year-old’s career, and it’s important he thinks of the long-term rewards rather than the short-term pain of possibly sitting behind Kane for a while.