Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Marcus Rashford is ready to take up the challenge of reaching his best level for club and country as he prepares to return from a three-month lay-off.
Rashford, 23, has been sidelined since July due to shoulder surgery but he has been included in the United squad for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Leicester.
Rashford received an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester last week for his campaign against child poverty. Rashford was also made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List last year for his charitable work.
The United forward scored 21 goals in 2020-21 but his performance level nosedived amid his shoulder injury and Rashford admitted he entered the European Championship low on confidence.
United signed Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer to intensify the competition in attack and Solskjaer has backed Rashford on the eve of his comeback.
“I know that we will see the best of Marcus in the years to come,” Solskjaer said. “He has done remarkable things at a young age but he is now coming into the best age for a footballer and he is learning, he is getting more and more experience, he has time to reflect.
“You know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things and now to prioritise the… maybe prioritise his football and focus on football because he’s got a challenge on his hands here at Man United, he has got a challenge on his hands to play for England, and I think Marcus is one of those who takes up those challenges and is going to.
“He is going to express himself and his talent and he knows that we want a lot from him but we are going to give him the time to get back to what he was and what he can be.
“He does look fresh. He looks keen, he looks fit. He’s bulked up a little bit, some muscle. Of course, he had to bear a lot of the responsibility for us because we’ve had injuries, we’ve had different players out and at such a young age, he’s done so much for the team and he’s done so much off the pitch as well.
“I think that the time away for him was the time maybe to focus on himself and… I don’t want to say get back to being himself but you know, Marcus Rashford running around with that enthusiasm, running in behind, not having to take on too much responsibility is a great sight to see.
“For us now, he comes back into a different team. He’s got Jadon here, Mason’s grown, Cristiano is here. I want to see that nice grin and smile and enthusiasm that he’s shown so many times.
“And when he comes on the pitch, if he starts or he doesn’t, just enjoy yourself and express yourself. That’s what Man United players do and that’s what we want.”