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Rashford again absent from England training

Marcus Rashford was again absent from England training Credit: PA

Marcus Rashford was again absent from England training as the World Cup opener against Tunisia edged closer.

The 20-year-old bolstered his chances of starting Monday's Group G clash with a man-of-the-match display in the 2-0 friendly send-off win against Costa Rica last Thursday.

However, Rashford's hopes of featuring against Tunisia appear to be diminishing after missing a second day of training in Russia with a knee complaint.

The Football Association indicates it is a precautionary measure and manager Gareth Southgate called it a "slight knock" upon England's arrival.

Rashford also attempted to allay concerns about his fitness on Twitter on Wednesday evening.

"Thanks for the messages I've been getting," he posted.

"Picked up a slight niggle but nothing to worry about #ThreeLions"

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Rashford misses England training with knee strain

Marcus Rashford is fighting for an England starting spot. Credit: PA

Marcus Rashford sat out England's first training session in Repino with a knee strain, but ITV Sport understands his absence was just a precaution and the striker should be fit in time for Monday's opening World Cup match against Tunisia.

The 20-year-old picked up the problem in England's final training session at St George's Park before flying to Russia on Tuesday, though manager Gareth Southgate clarified that it was no more than a "slight knock".

Speaking to the media on landing at St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport, Southgate said: "Marcus took a slight knock but nothing too serious, so we will have a look at that ahead of tomorrow's session which is open for everyone to see.

"We have another week of preparation and a lot of competition for places, as you know."

Mourinho hopes Rashford's knee injury isn't serious

Rashford scored for United but had to be withdrawn later in the second half. Credit: PA

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is hoping for the best after Marcus Rashford limped off with a knee injury.

The 19-year-old forward secured a 1-0 victory at Benfica after his free-kick caught out teenage goalkeeper Mile Svilar in Wednesday's Champions League encounter.

But shortly afterwards Rashford sat frustrated on the deck with a knee injury that forced him out of the Group A clash.

"Marcus Rashford, I thought was cramps because he was running so much that I thought it was about muscular fatigue," Mourinho said.

"But, no, he told me he was feeling something in his knee. It didn't look for me a big thing but you never know."

Phil Jones should return to fitness in Saturday's Premier League match at Huddersfield, but fellow centre-back Eric Bailly remains side-lined.

Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic continue their comeback from serious knee ligament injuries, while midfielders Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini are currently out injured.

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Southgate: Rashford could return to England Under-21s

Marcus Rashford has received a senior call-up for England but could return to the U-21s Credit: PA

Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford could still go away with the England Under-21s to Poland this summer despite his inclusion in Gareth Southgate's latest senior squad.

Rashford has been selected by Three Lions boss Southgate, rather than his under-21 counterpart Aidy Boothroyd, for games with Germany and Lithuania next week due to a striker shortage in the senior ranks.

Southgate's ideal scenario would have been to have Rashford in the junior age group and there is still a possibility that the forward joins James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond, also senior call-ups this time around, at this summer's Under-21 European Championship.

That may incur the wrath of Rashford's club boss Jose Mourinho, who is concerned about fatigue for a player who has already accumulated 40 appearances this term and was a part of England's Euro 2016 squad.

Southgate however was more definitive about the involvement of James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond, who will both drop back down this summer.

My idea would have been that Marcus was with the under-21s this time around.

Clearly we've lost Harry (Kane), we've lost Daniel Sturridge as number nines. With the qualifying game especially, we need that sort of cover.

Then we've got to see how much football he plays between now and the end of the season really.

Even though [Southampton duo Ward-Prowse and Redmond] will definitely be with the under-21s in the summer, we feel to hold them back just because of that wouldn't be the right thing.

We think it's a good message for that under-21 squad that there is a pathway for them. We think there's one or two others that can come on that route.

– Gareth Southgate

Marcus Rashford set to be named in England squad

Marcus Rashford recovered from illness to play in Manchester United's FA Cup defeat at Chelsea Credit: PA

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.

Taking 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.

Press Association Sport understands 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.

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.

Elsewhere, Jordan Henderson and Danny Rose will miss out through injury, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a doubt. The squad is set to be announced on Thursday afternoon.

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