Manchester United 3, Bournemouth 1: Rooney backs Rashford for England before admitting his days as an Old Trafford striker are numbered
Manchester United and England skipper Wayne Rooney has backed rookie striker Marcus Rashford to prove his worth and snatch a place in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad after chalking up another goal in Tuesday's demolition of Bournemouth.
Rearranged after Sunday’s fake bomb fiasco, United rounded off their league campaign with a comfortable win as Rooney, Rashford and substitute Ashley Young found the net for the hosts, while Chris Smalling netted a last-gasp own goal.
The 19-0 scoreline needed to usurp rivals Manchester City and seal a place in next season’s Champions League was a forlorn hope at best, although victory moved United above Southampton to finish fifth, as Bournemouth stayed 16th.
Rashford, 18, has been called into England’s provisional 26-man party for next month’s European Championship in France and must now convince Hodgson of his true value.
“He’s a young lad but you’ve seen again today his goal, a fantastic goal, and he’s got to work hard over the next couple of weeks to convince Roy to take him and I’m sure if he does well we’ll have no problems putting him in the 23,” said Rooney, 30.
Rooney enjoyed a productive evening in midfield and conceded that his days as a striker, particularly at Old Trafford, are numbered.
“Sometimes you have to make choices in your career and at the minute it’s probably better for me to play deeper,” added Rooney.
“That’s a bit different with England because I could still be the striker, but certainly after that, for next season, that’s where I see myself playing.”
Proceedings were as unremarkable as they could possibly be until two minutes before the break when Anthony Martial’s cross was beautifully dummied by Rashford, allowing Rooney to confidently side-foot home – his 100th goal at Old Trafford.
A thunderbolt from Antonio Valencia was tipped over by Cherries’ goalkeeper Adam Federici before Rashford effortlessly lashed an angled drive across the Australian stopper to all but settle matters with quarter of an hour remaining.
Rooney dinked a pass over the Bournemouth defence for Young to bundle a shot past Federici in the dying embers of the clash, although there was still time for a Max Gradel effort to cannon off Smalling and fly past a helpless David de Gea.