Sports

Mar 042016
 
Marcus Rashford has four goals in three Manchester United games since making his debut this season

England manager Roy Hodgson has left the door open for Marcus Rashford to make his Euro 2016 squad.

The Manchester United striker, 18, scored twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland and then two more in the win over Arsenal on Sunday.

Rashford, who did not score against Watford on Wednesday, has only been capped at under-18 level for England.

“I would neither rule him in or rule him out, I just hope he can do well,” Hodgson said.

“I have been watching Rashford for two years, so I have known about him for a long time. He is in our system.”

He added he was delighted that an England Under-18 player was getting chances in Manchester United’s first team.

“Most of all, I hope he is allowed to develop as an 18-year-old should and people don’t try to put him under enormous pressure,” he said.

“Scoring four goals in three games is a great achievement and if he can keep that up, it is great for Manchester United and England.”

Rashford came into Louis van Gaal’s side with fellow strikers Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial injured but looks set to remain a part of the first-team picture at Old Trafford for the remainder of the season.

Lack of games doesn’t count against Wilshere

Jack Wilshere has not played since injuring his fibula in a pre-season friendly

Meanwhile, Hodgson says Jack Wilshere could find his way into England’s Euro 2016 squad despite the fact he has yet to play for Arsenal this season.

The 24-year-old midfielder has been sidelined since breaking his fibula on the eve of the current campaign, the latest in a long list of injury problems.

Hodgson has two friendly internationals – against Germany and Netherlands – this month before he must name his squad for the finals in France.

Those two matches are likely to come too soon for Wilshere, who is expected by his Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to be fit in the next three to four weeks.

But Hodgson said a lack of game time does not mean he would not call up the 28-cap player.

“Players are either fit to play or not,” Hodgson said. “Whether they play 30 games, 40 games, 10 games, 15 games, eight games, I don’t understand that.

“For me, it’s all about the class of the player. It’s about who is in form and out of form. Even to some extent I have to rely on others’ judgement on that.

“Form is transient, but class isn’t, ” he added. “We need classy players and players we can trust and players we know what they will give us and players who have the desire, motivation and wish to play for England, to do all that’s necessary.

“Luckily we have some of those. But let’s be realistic, we are not in the 60, 70 and 80s when it comes to those. If there are 30 players who reach the high standards I demand, we will have to pick 23 from them.”

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Rayo Vallecano 1-5 Barcelona

 Posted by at 5:48 AM
Mar 042016
 
Ivan Rakitic’s opener for Barcelona came after Juan Carlos Martin Corral dropped the ball

Barcelona broke a 27-year old Spanish record by going 35 games unbeaten in all competitions this season after thrashing nine-man Rayo Vallecano.

Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as the hosts fell apart after Ivan Rakitic’s opener, a result of a goalkeeper error.

Diego Llorente was sent off in between two Messi goals before Manucho replied.

Manuel Iturra then saw red but Luis Suarez had the resulting penalty saved as Messi wrapped up a 35th Barca treble before Arda Turan completed the rout.

It was the Turkish midfielder’s first Barcelona goal since his move from Atletico Madrid last summer, but in an action-packed game, it was relegated to a mere footnote.

Luis Enrique’s team now sit eight points clear of second-placed Atletico and they could have easily made it even more convincing against Rayo, who are now separated from the relegation zone by goal difference.

Barcelona twice hit the woodwork with Neymar’s free-kick against the bar falling to Sergio Busquets, who was brought down for Rayo’s second red card and a penalty.

Rayo goalkeeper Juan Carlos Martin Corral made up for his earlier mistake by saving Suarez’s spot-kick with Barcelona now having missed half of their 18 penalties this season. That also includes the one taken by Messi when he passed to Suarez.

The hosts will argue that Llorente’s dismissal was harsh as he took the ball despite a high tackle on Rakitic, but they were outclassed as Messi drew level with Real Madrid’s Spanish record-holder Cristiano Ronaldo on 35 hat-tricks.

The Argentine also took his season’s tally to 33 goals.

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Mar 042016
 
Johnson faces a jail sentence and was told by the judge to “say goodbye to your daughter”

The Professional Footballers’ Association believes there is “still much work to do” to educate players following Adam Johnson’s conviction for child sex offences.

The ex-Sunderland forward, 28, is facing jail after being found guilty of sexual activity with a girl aged 15.

The PFA runs programmes to teach players about “personal integrity”.

And it said it was “extremely disappointed”