Interest in England’s friendly with Australia was piqued, particularly among Manchester United fans, when it became apparent that in-form 18-year-old Marcus Rashford would start up front instead of Daniel Sturridge, who succumbed to a calf injury in training.
After Rashford’s second-minute goal and reasonably-assured performance in the 2-1 win over the Aussies, the focus has now turned to whether Three Lions gaffer Roy Hodgson will play the same trick all summer long, and leave injury-prone Sturridge at home in place of the young Mancunian.
Sturridge would be a better bet if fully fit, but the 26-year-old hasn’t managed more than 14 Premier League appearances over a season since Liverpool’s ultimately fruitless pursuit of the title in 2013/14, with injury restricting him to 29 during that campaign too.
Transfermarkt.com puts the number of games Sturridge has missed since joining the Reds three and a half years ago at 75, due to hamstring (3x), ankle (2x), knee, groin, thigh and hip injuries.
All but one of the former Manchester City and Chelsea man’s eight injuries at Liverpool have kept him on the sidelines for at least six games. The most England can play in France is seven.
Taking all this into account, it’s little wonder Hodgson has included a backup plan – not a perfect one, because Rashford is still a work in progress and struggled at times on his international debut, losing the ball too easily on more than one occasion, but he scored the first goal and had a big hand in the second.
That’s not bad for a teenager on debut, and while Rashford is nowhere near as ready as England and United teammate Wayne Rooney was when he stormed Euro 2004 at the same age, eight goals in his first 18 games for the North West giants is a tidy return – Sturridge scored the same amount over the period.
If there’s even a hint of an injury still troubling Sturridge, Rashford is the next cab off the rank and should go to France instead.