Erik ten Hag has told Marcus Rashford it is up to him to force his way back into the Manchester United side.
Rashford was dropped for Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Chelsea after being criticised for his performance in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Newcastle, and the England forward has been struggling for form for much of the campaign.
Last season Rashford scored 30 goals to help United finish third and lift the Carabao Cup, but has only scored twice this term – with one of those a penalty in the 3-0 win over Everton last month.
Without Rashford, United produced arguably their best performance of the season on Wednesday night, and the outstanding form of Alejandro Garnacho in his favoured position on the left is another challenge for Rashford to overcome.
“Rashford is an incredible, good player,” Ten Hag said. “You can’t do it with 11 players, he can’t play every game. He’s not in this moment in the form he was last year but I am sure he will get there.
“It is up to him. The team will always line themselves up and the best players who form the best team will play.”
Any comeback may need to wait, with Rashford a doubt for Saturday’s match against Bournemouth after missing training through illness on Friday.
With Rashford struggling in front of goal, United’s top-scorer this term is Scott McTominay, who got both goals in Wednesday’s win to move on to six for the season.
During the summer it had appeared the Scotland midfielder might be on his way out of Old Trafford, and it was a similar story for England defender Harry Maguire, who has instead forced his way back into Ten Hag’s side and was on Friday rewarded with Premier League player of the month honours.
“I think we have a squad and in the squad there is internal competition,” Ten Hag said when asked about the pair. “If you want a successful season you need more than 11 players. Finally, in every season, it will turn and in every season it’s what is the best team.
“They are here, they are great players and have played into the team. That’s what you expect from every player, there has to be dedication to aim for this.”
In the wake of the Newcastle defeat, Ten Hag was facing questions about a club in crisis, but less than a week later he had his own Premier League monthly award to show off, with his side only three points behind neighbours City.
“We know where we are going and we had our setbacks, especially at the start of the season. Things went against us with injuries, decisions, and sometimes you find yourselves in such a place,” he said.
“You see the character of the team, we’re in a better place, better form. The performances are increasing, we are performing as a team and as individuals, you have to be sharp in every game. This league is very competitive and you see it in results this week. Everyone kills everyone.”
United face an in-form Bournemouth side at Old Trafford on Saturday, and Ten Hag has plenty to consider in his team selection with a must-win Champions League match against Bayern Munich to follow on Tuesday before they head to Liverpool next Sunday.
“I think they have very good form, Bournemouth,” Ten Hag added. “It’s a very good side, very well constructed, capable players, again you have to play your best.
“Everyone is killing everyone, you have to be 100 per cent ready as a team for that game. That’s our job to do, to get there.
“As a manager, my coaches, with the rest of the staff, we always consider everything but the next game is always the most important, especially in the Premier League where everyone is killing everyone. You need a strong team.”
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