Alan Shearer believes Marcus Rashford should start for England against Malta on Saturday — but Wayne Rooney should not be playing behind him.
Rashford was among four Manchester United players in interim manager Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia, alongside Rooney, Jesse Lingard and Chris Smalling.
“He [Rashford] has been knocking on the door until now,” former England captain Shearer wrote in his column for The Sun. “He is crashing on it with his performances for Manchester United. If you can step up to the plate for them, England will hold no worries for him.
“To be fair, caretaker boss Gareth Southgate could play anyone up front and win this game, so why not give Rashford his chance? We need to be looking to the future after those woeful performances at the Euros and Rashford is very much that.”
Shearer also questioned former England manager Roy Hodgson’s decision to bring Rashford on so late in the round-of-16 defeat against Iceland at Euro 2016.
“If he had been given more than a few minutes against Iceland, we might have stumbled along into the quarterfinals of that competition,” he wrote. “Why on earth he wasn’t brought on before the 86th minute, when it was crying out for his spark, I don’t know.
“Well, now is the chance to see the very best from him in his best position, straight up front. Not just one game either, give him a run.
“This is a young player with pace, trickery, awareness and a great eye for goal. He is not too young either, he is good enough and, from what I hear, he is a very level-headed lad.
“The question then, is who plays just behind him? It should not be Wayne Rooney. He has not started in the last three games for his club and doesn’t look like getting back into this Manchester United side.
“This is why I said it would have been better for him to retire from international football after the Euros. He can no longer do it for club and country. Right now, he can’t even do it for his club and that is what he needs to concentrate on to have a chance of extending his career. I would put Dele Alli in behind Rashford.”
Rashford has scored four goals for United this season in nine appearances, while Rooney has scored once for the Red Devils this term in 10 appearances.