As Manchester United stumble from one crisis to another, Marcus Rashford must sometimes wonder whether it was wise to sign that long contract a couple of months ago.

Old Trafford remains a great place to be and Rashford enjoys the deal of a lifetime, make no mistake. But still, over the past week or so, Rashford might just have cast an envious eye towards Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham, the pair basking in the glow of stardom at clubs that retain the sort of glamour United is fast shedding.

But Gareth Southgate must hope Rashford remains content at his club, must hope his confidence remains undimmed, must hope he remains as motivated and enthusiastic as ever. That is how Southgate wants him to arrive at an England camp every single time he turns up.

Because there should be no debate, a Rashford in prime form is a real difference-maker for this England team. He certainly was at Hampden Park on an evening when – particularly in a first half when they threatened to truly dismantle the hapless Scots – Southgate’s heralded collection of attacking talent went through its extensive repertoire.

And as many observers believed to be the case at Qatar 2022, this is an England side that looks more threatening, looks more potent, with Rashford in its ranks. The fluidity of England’s attacking options is the key to their relative success. It is why they are the top-scorers in European Championship qualifying.

And the fact that Southgate has so many combinations at his disposal means, apart from Kane, Southgate cannot guarantee anyone a start. After this, it seems almost inconceivable that Phil Foden is not an automatic starter under Southgate.

Never mind the arguments about whether or not he can play a central role, never mind where Pep Guardiola feels his best position to be, never mind where Southgate feels it to be, for that matter. Anywhere on the field ahead of the back-line, Foden can not only play there, he can excel there.

The impudence of his finish for England’s opener reflected the impudence of his all-round game. But if you get a chance, look back at the extended build-up to that goal and you will see Rashford’s early pass and you will see a diagonal sprint from the United man that turned his opponents into traffic cones.

But Rashford has far more than directness and speed in his armoury and a lot of it was on display in Glasgow. The no-look reverse pass was on display and his range of passing is one of his under-rated qualities.

Time and again, he selected the correct option – and that has not always been the case in his career. And whether for club or for country, it should be abundantly clear his best position is on the left side of a three-strong forward line.

That is a slot he should have occupied against France in the World Cup quarter-final and that is a slot he should make his own. After his club-mate Harry Maguire had gifted Scotland a way back into the game, Southgate gave Rashford a rest. It was well-deserved.

Now, it is back to Old Trafford, where the gloom always threatens to deepen. But at least they have Rashford, a shining light for Manchester United and a shining light for England.

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