Teenage striker Marcus Rashford was selected in England’s provisional 26-man squad Monday ahead of the European Championship, less than three months after making his debut for Manchester United.
The 18-year-old Rashford has established himself as United’s No. 1 striker in the final months of this season, scoring seven goals, and was one of five strikers selected by coach Roy Hodgson in an enlarged group for warm-up matches against Turkey, Australia and Portugal.
The squad will be trimmed to 23 players by May 31, and Hodgson said Rashford faces a fight to knock a fellow striker “off their perch” and make the final squad.
“He is one of the contenders, of course,” Hodgson said. “The competition for him is quite strong and he’ll understand that, but he deserves to be selected in this larger squad and it will be very interesting to see what he can do.”
Rashford will have only one friendly to stake his claim – against Australia on May 27. He will not be available for Sunday’s game against Turkey because United plays in the FA Cup final a day earlier.
“If he continues to develop, there is no reason why he cannot become a regular in the England team,” Hodgson said.
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott was the most high-profile omission after failing to start a match for his club since February. Andros Townsend was preferred to Walcott after finishing the Premier League season well with relegated Newcastle.
“I wish Roy and all the team the best of luck for a successful Euros,” Walcott wrote on Twitter.
Midfielders Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson were also picked after recently making their returns after injuries but most prove their fitness to Hodgson, who said he is likely to select his final squad after the Australia game.
England is in Group B at Euro 2016 with Russia, Wales and Slovakia. The tournament runs from June 10-July 10.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Andros Townsend (Newcastle), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester)