England boss salutes debutant Rashford as Manchester United teenager lights up Sunderland

Marcus Rashford celebrates his early goal for England as a delighted Stadium of Light crowd enjoy the moment. Picture by Frank Reid

Marcus Rashford celebrates his early goal for England as a delighted Stadium of Light crowd enjoy the moment. Picture by Frank Reid

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Marcus Rashford’s chances of being on the plane to France have been handed a major boost after he scored within three minutes of his England debut.

His clinical finish from close range in the opening minutes of the win over Australia at the Stadium of Light got Roy Hodgson’s side off to the perfect start.

The 18-year-old was grinning from ear to ear as he firmly established himself in Hodgson’s mind ahead of the final 23-man squad being confirmed on Tuesday.

The England boss heaped praise on the young Manchester United star who has broken through in spectacular fashion this season.

And he insists he had no nerves at all about handing him his full debut in a much-changed England side against an under-strength Australia.

“It was a tough game, a really stern test. Australia were good,” said Hodgson.

“I was pleased with certain aspects of our play, we looked dangerous on the break and I am also pleased that so many players who didn’t start the game against Turkey got a chance to start this game and show what they can do.

“We have come away with a victory, a hard fought but a victory and it is important to keep the momentum going.

“On the subject of Marcus Rashford, I was asked beforehand was I nervous about putting him in?

“Was I nervous he wouldn’t be able to handle the situation? No.

“I wasn’t that surprised with how he played.

“We had a further advantage in changing our system from a diamond to three forwards when Wayne Rooney came on.

“It gave us a chance to see if he was capable of playing in a wide position and that was a further advantage in terms of this game and his performance.

“He tired towards the end, he was obviously feeling the pace and the intensity of the game but that is normal, we expected that.

“I am pleased for him. He was always one of those players seriously competing for a place in the 23 and he has done his chances of travelling with us no harm.

“Nothing changes in that respect, we wouldn’t have had him in the 26 if we didn’t think he was a serious consideration for the 23.”

Rashford’s goal came after Raheem Sterling’s pass was deflected into his path, the youngster holding his run well before finishing past Mathew Ryan.

Hodgson added: “He held his run well and it was a very nice piece of link-up play.

“Both him and Sterling were lively first half but they haven’t had much experience playing in that system.

“With those two we were always very dangerous on the counter-attack.”