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Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford stakes claim to central role

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Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and other team mates went to visit children hurt in the May 22 attack in the city © AFP / PAUL ELLIS

Burton-on-Trent, United Kingdom, Jun 7 – Manchester United and England prodigy Marcus Rashford has reiterated that he sees his long-term playing future at centre-forward.

Rashford, 19, was mainly used in wide positions by United manager Jose Mourinho this season, before an injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw him moved to a central role, where he thrived.

United are looking to sign a new striker and have been linked with Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, but Rashford wants to make the position his own.

“Of course it’s to play down the middle,” he said when asked about his preference.

“But playing on the left creates a different picture in your mind. It’s what’s needed to play down the middle.

“It’s all a process and if I keep buying into it and learning from it, hopefully everything will come through when I’m playing in the number nine position.”

Mourinho is not renowned for trusting young players, but Rashford believes the faith the Portuguese has shown in him speaks for itself.

“A lot of people have a lot of opinions about him, but what he’s done is clear,” Rashford told reporters at England’s St George’s Park training base in Burton-on-Trent.

“It’s not all what people say. I’ve obviously played a lot of games under him this year and I’ve earned his trust, which is important for me and it’s got me to where I am now.”

After stepping into Ibrahimovic’s shoes, Rashford scored crucial goals against Chelsea, Anderlecht and Celta Vigo and helped United to glory in the Europa League.

Though he does not turn 20 until October 31, he says he took the new responsibility in his stride.

“I didn’t learn much about myself because I knew how I would react to certain situations,” said Rashford, who hopes to start in England’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Saturday.

“It’s about what other people have learnt about me.”

– ‘Make a difference’ –

He added: “You have only seen me playing for one year and there’s still a lot of things you don’t know about me and what you’ve got to learn, and what I’ve got to learn about myself.

“It’s all just a start.”

Rashford and his United team-mate Jesse Lingard went to Manchester Children’s Hospital on Monday to visit children hurt in the Manchester terror attack, which left 22 dead and 119 injured.

American pop star Ariana Grande, whose show was targeted in the attack, put on a star-studded benefit concert in Manchester last Sunday and Rashford said it was vital for the city to pull together.

“We’re with all the families as much as we can be and it’s important that the families know that,” he said.

“That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to go and visit the hospitals. We’re doing as much as we can to support all the families and the victims of the attack.

“Things like the concert and going to the hospitals, it just shows the families and people around the city that everyone’s together and we have to fight it together.”

In a further sign of his maturity, Rashford revealed the hospital visit had been his own idea.

“It was basically up to us,” said the teenager, who said “friends of friends” had been caught up in the suicide attack outside Manchester Arena.

“It was in our spare time. We weren’t doing anything, so we thought, ‘Why not?’ It’s something we wanted to do, but didn’t have time to do when the season was still going on.

“As soon as we had time off, we thought it was important that we went and did it.

“You feel proud, being able to make a difference. If you can make a difference, I think it’s important that you do.

“Going there and just seeing some of the victims just smiling and having a laugh, it gives you a good feeling and you want to recreate that moment as much as you can.”

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