England boss Gareth Southgate backs misfiring Marcus Rashford ahead of Spain tie | Football | Sport
Rashford missed a golden chance to give England the lead against Croatia in Rijeka on Friday night.
The Manchester United forward spurned two second-half chances as England drew 0-0, and remain looking for their first win in the UEFA Nations League.
However, with the three lions traveling to take on Spain on Monday, Southgate insisted Ashford is still a big part of his plans.
The youngster netted against Spain and Switzerland last month, and is keen to get back on the scoresheet.
“I was really pleased he was in the areas to get those chances and his general performance as the game went on, he looked more and more of a threat” said Southgate.
“He scored twice for us last month and we love him to bits, so he’ll take more of those chances than not.
“The more important thing for me is we’ve created good chances and, the forwards we’ve got, they’ll finish them. We’ve just got to make sure we’re creating them.”
Southgate, who has ditched his 3-5-2 World Cup system for a new 4-3-3 shape to help England cope better against top opposition, is pondering whether to give Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho more minutes in Spain.
Sancho, 18, sparkled in a cameo in the closing minutes against Croatia and Southgate was impressed.
“I knew he was ready for that because we wouldn’t have put him into that game 20 minutes from the end unless we knew that,” said the England chief.
“So, I guess we’ve just got to keep a lid on it. I can’t do anything about the hype!
“I don’t think it’s so relevant whether he starts or is a sub in terms of the impact he’ll have.
“I just think that’s part of him gaining strength in the game and understanding at Dortmund of how they’re playing and then with us just easing him into the way we play and the environment.
“In the Champions League games we’ve had watched he’s had a really good impact as well.” Southgate admits he’s still getting to know Sancho – but likes his confidence.
“I briefly had a little bit of time with him when he was an Under-15 in one of our camps.
“But also I’ve spent a lot of time talking to other youth coaches to get a good insight into his personality and how he is, just so we were able to help him settle as quickly as possible.
“He’s actually quite a quiet lad around the place, but, of course, he’s very confident on the field and he showed that belief in his spell he had on the pitch.”
Having already beaten Croatia 6-0 in the Nations League, Southgate is wary of Spain’s potential to dish out a football lesson in Seville.
He said: “They are one of the best two or three teams in the world. They’ve had some wonderful players who have just come to the end but replaced those with maybe a bit more energy and pace in the forward areas.”