Marcus Rashford will be called upon to help ease Gareth Southgate’s attacking headache, with the Manchester United striker set to be named in the first England squad of the manager’s permanent reign.
Handed the role on a full-time basis after an impressive four-match temporary stint, the 46-year-old next week takes charge as Sam Allardyce’s full-time successor for the first time.
Wednesday’s tough-looking friendly at world champions Germany kicks off his reign before Lithuania arrive at Wembley on Sunday, March 26 for a World Cup qualifier.
It is understood United forward Rashford will be called up for those matches rather than dropping down to the Under-21s, with Southgate expected to name a larger than usual squad as he attempts to juggle injury worries.
England’s attack looks particularly light with Tottenham striker Harry Kane facing around six weeks out with ankle ligament damage and Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge having not played since February 4 due to illness and a hip complaint.
England captain Wayne Rooney is also a major doubt with a knee problem that will keep the country’s all-time top scorer out of United’s Europa League last-16 second leg against Rostov.
“Rooney is injured,” United boss Jose Mourinho said on Wednesday.
“He had some kick in his knee area, so he can’t even come out to the pitch. He stays inside the medical department.”
United team-mate Rashford is set to be called upon having overcome illness to feature in Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final loss at Chelsea, while Leicester’s Jamie Vardy remains available to Southgate.
West Ham’s Andy Carroll is reportedly under consideration four-and-a-half years after winning the last of his nine caps, with Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe, last capped in November 2013, uncapped Burnley striker Andre Gray and Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck other options.
It is understood the national team coaches met to discuss call-ups at St George’s Park on Wednesday morning ahead of the following day’s squad announcements.
The teams will be drip fed out until the senior squad is announced at 2pm, when Everton playmaker Ross Barkley’s upturn in form could be rewarded with a first call-up since Euro 2016.
However, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, who has captained England in Rooney’s absence, is out with a foot injury.
There is a question mark over Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain due to a slight hamstring problem, so too Jack Wilshere having lost his place in the Bournemouth starting line-up in recent matches.
Danny Rose’s knee injury keeps the Tottenham left-back out, although Ryan Bertrand, Aaron Cresswell and Leighton Baines are alternatives. Luke Shaw is also available, despite only featuring twice for Manchester United since November 30, and remains eligible for England Under-21s.
Southampton duo Nathan Redmond, the Under-21s player of the year, and Young Lions captain James Ward-Prowse are pushing for first senior call-ups, but Southgate may be dissuaded with the Under-21 European Championship looming large.
Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson played for Southgate’s Under-21s and is said to be on the manager’s radar, while Phil Jones’ displays in Manchester United’s defence will not have gone unnoticed.
West Ham’s Michail Antonio will be hoping to receive another England call-up having yet to make his international debut.
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