Manchester United must be patient with Marcus Rashford injury
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Manchester United have had themselves an excellent fortnight or so. Bruno Fernandes looks right at home in Manchester having hit the ground running, while Premier League victories over Chelsea and Watford have lifted the Red Devils up to fifth in the table. Key faces are also returning from injury, too, with Scott McTominay taking back to the field over the weekend. The 20-time Premier League champions are definitely trending in the right direction...
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deserves credit for the improvement. After all, we're all quick to bash him whenever a mistake is made, so we should be equally as keen to laud him in praise. Whatever your thoughts on the Norweigan, he's improved this squad and the players in it. You look at Mason Greenwood, the aforementioned McTominay and more recently, Anthony Martial. Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the Norweigan, though, is Marcus Rashford. Unfortunately, the England superstar is currently out injured. It's 'touch-and-go' as to whether he'll pull on the red jersey again this term.
Watching on from the sidelines, no doubt Rashford will be chomping at the bit. After all, you add him into this starting line-up in Daniel James' place, this is a team that'd strike fear into the eyes of any opponent. However, Solskjaer and United should err on the side of caution. The only thing worse than time sidelined is rushing someone back too early. Paul Pogba knows all about that. He's played seven games this term.
Back injuries aren't to be messed with. Robin van Persie will attest. As the season wears on, that dangling carrot, as Rashford begins to knock on Solskjaer's door and ask for his chance more vigorously, will loom large. United, must take the executive decision despite how disappointing it may be. I'd even go one further and tell Gareth Southgate to look elsewhere when selecting his European Championship squad, though that may be easier said than done.
It's the sort of injury that needs to completely heal. There's no quick fix to suffering a stress fracture in your back. The only tonic is rest, recuperation then rehabilitation. He's still so young that Rashford needs to approach this one carefully. It's not as if he's only got another season or two left in the tank. In a perfect world, he'd be hoping to play for another decade-and-a-half.
The decision is made tougher as Rashford's true breakout season is now filled with ifs and buts. The Wythenshawe-born-winger's tally of nineteen was already by far and away the best in his career. He was matching former United star Romelu Lukaku stride-for-stride when it came to sticking the ball in the onion bag, and I feel extremely confident in believing Rashford would've reached that 30+ milestone if his campaign cruelly wasn't derailed.
At the end of the day, Marcus Rashford is Manchester United's future. He can be their talisman for the next ten years, meaning risking him for the last ten games (or so) of the season when he recovers pales in insignificance. Yes, it's going to be tempting to resist if Champions League qualification is hanging on by a thread or the Old Trafford club are fighting it out at the business end of the Europa League or FA Cup, but they have to remain firm. I'd always vote in favour of keeping the long-term dream alive as opposed to short-term success, though I guess that's far easier for me to say as I'm sat on my sofa...