Marcus Rashford went joint-top of the World Cup scoring charts with his second and third goals of the tournament against Wales; forward was a fringe figure at the Euros and missed a penalty in the shootout defeat to Italy but has been transformed under Erik ten Hag at Man Utd this season
Wednesday 30 November 2022 14:25, UK
England boss Gareth Southgate says the World Cup's joint-top scorer Marcus Rashford is a transformed player compared to how he was at the Euros in 2021.
Last summer, Rashford was just a fringe player nursing a shoulder injury as England reached the final of the European Championships, ultimately missing a penalty in the shootout with Italy.
A poor season on the field followed with Manchester United and Rashford dropped out of England contention entirely as a result.
But the 25-year-old has looked rejuvenated under new club coach Erik ten Hag, telling Sky Sports in October he is now in a "better headspace", and forced his way back into Southgate's plans for Qatar.
He marked his first appearance for England since last year's final with a goal from the bench against Iran in the opening group game and his excellent double against Wales took him to the top of the scoring charts at the World Cup and suggests he could be in line for a starting role against Senegal in the last 16 on Sunday.
Asked about Rashford's battle through fitness and form issues, Southgate says he is now working with a player in a very different condition to the one he last had on England duty.
"It's been a challenge for him," Southgate said in his post-match press conference, following England's 3-0 win over Wales. "I went and saw him in the summer, had a long chat with him, and he had some clear ideas he felt he needed to think about and do.
"You can see with his club there has been happiness in his performances this year, and that has shown itself on the training ground with us.
"We have a different version completely to the player we had in the Euros last summer. He's managed to produce those moments tonight, and he could have had a hat-trick really.
"It's great for him, and because it's great for him it's great for us."
Southgate had allowed his players to celebrate with a few beers when they qualified from their group in Russia 2018. That isn't on the cards in Qatar, with Southgate suggesting his players may have to settle for a soft drink option in the dry state.
But his other comparison with the previous World Cup was to underline how expectations and the mentality of his players has shifted in the space of those four years.
"We've got a lot of milkshake back at the hotel," he joked, when asked how the players could celebrate. "Everything is different, we're embracing it. The players are really tight, so to this point we're very pleased. Of course the big business starts now.
"Compared to Russia, there's a different mentality about the whole group, there's more belief, our objectives are different. In Russia we were just thinking about winning a knockout game. There's more expectation now, but more confidence and more experience of big matches.
"So I don't know if we're ahead of where we were last summer [at the end of the Euros group stage], but definitely we are pleased that the first objective is achieved, the spirit of the team is good, we've got most of the group on the pitch which is fabulous for the dynamic, and no yellow cards, which is a really good position for us."
Round of 16 - Sunday December 4
England vs Senegal - Kick-off 7pm
Quarter-finals - Saturday December 10
England vs France or Argentina (Based on current group standings) - Kick-off 7pm
Semi-finals - Wednesday December 14
England vs Croatia/Japan/Portugal/Switzerland (Based on current group standings) - Kick-off 7pm