Jordan Henderson confident Marcus Rashford will become a key player for England

Image: Marcus Rashford scored his fourth England goal in Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Spain

Jordan Henderson is confident Marcus Rashford can continue making strides with England and help fill the void left by Jamie Vardy.

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With Vardy having stepped away from the international scene following the World Cup and Raheem Sterling injured, Rashford returned to the starting line-up in the Nations League defeat by Spain.

The 20-year-old put England ahead at Wembley with his fourth international goal but was twice denied by Manchester United team-mate David de Gea in the second half as the visitors sealed a 2-1 win at Wembley.

"We all know how talented Marcus is," said Henderson.

"His was a great finish. He had another one or two chances that maybe he would have liked to have scored but I thought he looked sharp.

"He was lively and he's always a threat on the counter-attack. He's a fantastic young player so he just needs to keep learning, keep improving. He's a big part of our team."

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Vardy's decision to effectively retire at the age of 31 - he has indicated he would help in an emergency but has otherwise called time - drew a typically measured response from manager Gareth Southgate.

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It has, though, left England short of established senior strikers. Arsenal's Danny Welbeck was the only centre-forward available from the bench on Saturday night and the likes of Dominic Solanke and Tammy Abraham have not progressed as hoped since being capped by Southgate.

Image: Leicester's Jamie Vardy effectively retired after the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Reflecting on Vardy's decision, Liverpool skipper Henderson admitted it came as a surprise to him.

"Yeah, a little bit," he said. "I know Vards and he's a robust player. He's always fit and does not get many injuries. Obviously you've got to respect his decision.

"He spoke with the manager and he felt that was the best thing for his career at this moment in time.

"We have got plenty of other good strikers like Rashford. Welbs came on and he's been doing fantastically well in training, so hopefully it gives them an opportunity now."

England will be particularly eager to get back to winning ways when they welcome Switzerland to the King Power Stadium in Tuesday's friendly.

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They were afforded a hero's homecoming at Wembley, in recognition of their run to the semi-finals of the World Cup but - having lost in the last four to Croatia and to Belgium in the third-place play-off.

"We still feel confident, but we still feel like we are learning. You want to play against the best teams and the best players to learn from the experiences," Henderson continued.

"It is very powerful to go out when the atmosphere is brilliant so we have to keep putting performances in to keep that spirit there. We have to keep working hard.

"There's still a long way to where we want to get to, but there are still positives to take even though we are disappointed with the final result."

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