Marcus Rashford again underlined his talent with a hat-trick for England Under-21s against Norway on Tuesday. We examine the selection issues he is now posing.
- Why was he not in the England senior side?
Despite Rashford being a member of the England squad at Euro 2016, new manager Sam Allardyce did not select him for last weekend's World Cup qualifier in Slovakia because of his lack of recent action for Manchester United.
- Why is he not playing for United?
Rashford was superb in the second half of last season in a generally underwhelming United side and was commanding a place by right. Things have changed over the summer, though, with the arrival of new manager Jose Mourinho and the big-name signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Nobody can doubt the impact Ibrahimovic has already had and his enduring quality, and so it seems Rashford will have to wait patiently behind the Swede.
- Will he get game time?
After Rashford sat out the opening two Premier League games of the season, rumours surfaced that the 18-year-old could be allowed out on loan. Mourinho quickly dismissed that suggestion and promised the youngster would get plenty of opportunities throughout the season. He delivered in the next game with Rashford coming off the bench to score a late winner at Hull. He is certainly stating his case clearly.
- What happens this weekend?
United play Manchester City in a much-hyped derby fixture at Old Trafford, which pits old foes Mourinho and Pep Guardiola against each other for the first time with their new clubs. It remains to be seen whether Rashford, who scored against City last season, has done enough to get back into the United side.
- Will Allardyce now bring Rashford back into his squad?
There will be a clamour for him to do so, but again it may depend on how much action he gets for United in the next month. If Allardyce does not see him as a starter against Malta or Slovenia, and he has played little for United in the meantime, the England Under-21 Euro qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Bosnia might serve him better. Then again, November's senior programme sees England play Scotland and Spain (friendly), and Allardyce may decide he wants him in the set-up ahead of such big fixtures.
- Should Rashford play at the European Under-21 Championship next summer?
Even assuming England qualify, it is much too early to say. Manager Gareth Southgate would presumably want to take him and the extra tournament experience could be highly valuable, but much may depend on how he progresses at senior level and how often he plays this season. Interestingly, he would also be eligible for the Under-20 World Cup, but these are probably considerations for later in the seasonMarcus Rashford's hat-trick on his England Under-21 debut against Norway on Tuesday continued his meteoric rise and showed his likely worth to Sam Allardyce's senior squad.
The Manchester United striker, still only 18, also scored a dramatic late winner for his club against Hull this season, leaving him ticking along at a goal every 33 minutes in the fledgling campaign.
While it is still early and the sample size is small, he has picked up where he left off in his debut season and outperformed England's established strikers up to now.
Rashford has two substitute appearances for United, with three shots against the Tigers culminating in his crucial injury-time strike.
He needed only four shots to claim the match ball on Tuesday, with Allardyce watching, and has four goals from seven shots in 133 minutes of football since the resumption.
By contrast, Harry Kane has yet to score in four appearances for Tottenham and England, taking eight shots without reward in his 357 minutes on the field.
Kane also started last season slowly - indeed, he remains without a league goal in the month of August in his career - but went on to score 32 in all competitions for club and country, so there is time for him to come good once more.
Jamie Vardy picked up where he left off with a goal in the Community Shield, but had to wait until Leicester's third game against Swansea to open his league account for the season. Having missed a host of chances against Hull in particular, he has two goals from eight shots in 386 minutes.
Liverpool have taken a cautious approach with Daniel Sturridge in light of his injury history, offering him just 71 minutes of playing time across three Premier League games.
He has yet to score in that competition, or in 15 minutes for England against Slovakia, and has two goals - both in a half-hour EFL Cup cameo against Burton to round off a 5-0 win - from nine shots in 116 minutes.
The role of Wayne Rooney has been much discussed, with the United and England captain deployed in midfield as Allardyce began his reign but playing in a more advanced position with his club. He has played 467 minutes for club and country, firing in 15 shots but scoring only once.
Last season's Premier League statistics show Rashford scoring a goal every 178 minutes, a virtually identical rate to Kane and Vardy if penalties are excluded - though he shot far less frequently, once every 56 minutes (Kane 23, Vardy 31), and scored once every 3.2 shots (Kane 7.7, Vardy 5.7).
Rashford's 892 minutes of action, while more significant than this season's sample size, are still dwarfed by Kane (3,554) and Vardy's (3,343) tallies and - like Sturridge, who played just 1,045 minutes in the league last season and scored every 131 minutes and every six shots - the test now will be to see if he can secure regular playing time and sustain his form.