Rotherham United: Richard Wood column ... The Millers defender says England need Marcus Rashford and welcomes back old boss Neil Warnock

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford

Interim manager Gareth Southgate should play Marcus Rashford up front for England when they face Malta today.

The Manchester United striker has been in fantastic scoring form since he made his debut for the Red Devils back in February.

Neil Warnock

Neil Warnock

With Harry Kane sidelined through injury, the door is certainly open for Rashford to get a run in the side. He seems to play with no fear. He has incredible pace, bags of skill and definitely knows where the net is. I’m just hoping Southgate shares my thoughts on this.

Rashford is just 18 years old and many people are calling for him to be eased into the national set-up, saying that he will benefit from playing with the under-21s, but I think this is absurd.

Age shouldn’t come into it.

If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

This outlook was epitomised by 13-year- old starlet Karamoko Dembele, who made his debut for Celtic U-20s against Hearts on Monday night. I have seen some footage of him on social media and he looks an unbelievable talent considering his tender age.

Another decision facing Southgate this week is whether to play Wayne Rooney.

I believe he shouldn’t play but think he still has a role to play within the squad.

He’s England’s record scorer and the second most capped player, so his experience and qualities are valuable attributes.

To play for your national team, you have to be playing regularly for your club side, so I think his role in the squad has changed and he realises this.

Southgate has done the right thing in retaining Rooney as captain. To take it off him would have created a problematic situation, which is the last thing England need after last week’s scandal.

Instead of Rooney, Dele Alli should play the number 10 role just off Rashford. He has been outstanding for Spurs and was a pivotal figure in their victory over Manchester City last weekend.

He also changed the dynamic of England’s last game against Slovakia when he came on as a substitute and injected some pace and made the Three Lions more of a threat going forward.

Rooney also admitted this to be the case in his press conference this week. For me, Alli and Rashford must start. At the end of the day, we are playing Malta, so should record a victory no matter what side we put out. Therefore, give these lads a full game and give them as much experience as possible now, which will benefit them hugely in future tournaments.

I’m glad Neil Warnock is back in football management with Cardiff City. The game needs characters like him and I suppose it was only a matter of time before a job came up.

He did a remarkable job in keeping Rotherham in the Championship last season and from that point I knew he wouldn’t walk away from football and retire.

He spoke passionately about getting a record eighth promotion so it will be interesting to see if he can move the Bluebirds up the table. He’s a very good manager with vast experience so I’m sure he’ll do well down in Wales. Best of luck to him.

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