This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
February 25, 2016. The day Marcus Rashford announced himself as an Old Trafford hero. The striker scored twice on his first-team debut against FC Midtjylland in the Europa League, and then followed it up with another brace against Arsenal just three days later.
The then 18-year-old took his chance after things fell into place for him. Anthony Martial had damaged his hamstring in the warm-up against the Danish side and Rashford stepped up from the substitutes bench and never looked back.
One man who is creating equal excitement at Old Trafford is 17-year-old Mason Greenwood. The academy product has impressed at youth level with the Red Devils and had his first taste of the first-team set-up last season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. And if the Norwegian’s comments this summer are to be believed, Greenwood could be following in Rashford’s footsteps sooner rather than later.
The striker, who can play out wide too just like Rashford, tore up the youth scene at United last season. As well as registering 15 goals in 13 U18 games, the starlet struck five in five in the UEFA Youth League – the academy equivalent of the Champions League.
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Such was the impression that Greenwood made in his appearances for the first-team, that Solskjaer insisted during his pre-season tour press conference that the youngster would be given plenty more chances next season.
He said: “For me, he’ll definitely get more game time. Everyone’s just enjoying watching him develop and grow, you know, because that step up from Academy football to men’s football can be difficult.
“Mason will definitely play more games. He has grown over the summer and I think his confidence has grown too after the Cardiff game, as he was our best player.”
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Like Rashford, the stars will undoubtedly have to align for Greenwood to be thrust into the spotlight. But things at the moment look incredibly promising for the teenager. Romelu Lukaku’s future is still very much up in the air and if the Belgian marksman were to depart, then the club would only really be left with Rashford as the side’s most senior striker.
It could potentially give Greenwood greater opportunities to star in the first-team and if Rashford continues to blow hot and cold like he did last season, then the 17-year-old could certainly go on to take advantage. All he needs to do is take inspiration from his teammate and strike partner to grab his opportunity when it comes.