Jose Mourinho does not think Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw should be in England's starting XI to begin Euro 2020.

The former United boss has been involved in media controversies around both players in the past.

Mourinho feels Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is a better option than Shaw at left-back for England, who open their campaign against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday in a World Cup semi-final rematch.

That is despite Shaw having a fantastic season for United, which saw him recently named the Players' Player of the Year at the club.

"I wouldn't think twice, I'd go with Chilwell," Mourinho told talkSPORT.

"I know that he plays normally with Chelsea in a five, but he is intelligent, he covers the space and the diagonals inside very well, he's dangerous in attack, he's good in the air and good on set pieces.

"He can defend well the possible long build up from Croatia on the first phase. He is very calm under pressure. I like Chilwell a lot.

"[Shaw] had a good season and clearly an evolution in terms of emotion, professionalism. But Chilwell has something more, especially with the ball, the way he thinks." 

The new Roma boss also feels Rashford's only positional option is to play on the left of attack, where he would prefer to line up with Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Mourinho believes Grealish is an "untouchable" selection and compared his play to that of Real Madrid great Luis Figo.

United target Jadon Sancho was not in Mourinho's team, which does include Manchester City star Phil Foden and Harry Kane, who thrived under his management at Tottenham.

Rashford scored against Romania in the 1-0 friendly win last week but Mourinho said: "Harry Kane is untouchable, Jack Grealish is untouchable and the best position for Grealish is coming in from the left.

"For me, Marcus Rashford can only play there. When he plays on the right, he is completely lost.

"He is dynamic but on the right totally broken. He is very good on the left attacking spaces. But Grealish, for me, is tremendous.

"What he creates and his personality – 'give me the ball' – he reminds me a little bit of Luis Figo.

"I don't like making comparisons, especially with a Golden Ball winner, but Grealish reminds me of my Figo.

"Figo, I had him in different periods in my career but I had him in his last season as a player at Inter Milan and even in his last season he was like, 'Give me the ball and I will resolve the problems for you'.

"The way Grealish gets the ball and attacks people, gets fouls, gets penalties, he is very powerful, I like him very much.

"So I would say Grealish on the left, Mason Mount as the number 10 and because I like the wingers to come inside, I would play Phil Foden on the right."

One United player who would be in Mourinho's starting team, though, is goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who he would start over Jordan Pickford.

"I am a Henderson fan," said Mourinho. "When I was at United he was a kid, and I tell this story because it shows his nature.

"He came to my office asking for a loan, he went to Shrewsbury, but this kid said to me then, 'When I come back, I want to be number one'.

"We looked at each other because we had [David] de Gea and this kid never played one game, but he has had incredible development.

"The loans were all very successful. The way United organised them I think United did amazing for him and he did amazing for himself.

"He has this arrogance in him, this trust and belief which I think an England goalkeeper needs."

Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips were Mourinho's two central midfielders.

Mourinho, though, would like to see Jude Bellingham play alongside Rice as the tournament progresses, describing the Borussia Dortmund prospect as "perfect" for such a role.

Kyle Walker, Tyrone Mings and John Stones made up the rest of his back four alongisde Chilwell.

England, who are in Group D, also face Scotland on June 18 and the Czech Republic on June 22.

England beat Romania 1-0 thanks to a Marcus Rashford penalty in their final pre-Euro 2020 warm-up match but the game was once again marred by supporters booing the Three Lions for taking the knee.

Fans jeered England players for showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement at the start of the 1-0 win over Austria earlier in the week, and despite Gareth Southgate clearly explaining on Saturday that his team's gesture was motivated by racial injustice rather than politics, boos were clearly audible once more at the Riverside Stadium.

Potentially deflated by those fans' blatant disregard for the team's feelings, perhaps England's rather subdued start in Middlesbrough had a straightforward explanation, with Southgate's side not posing much of a threat until Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jadon Sancho hit the crossbar after the half-hour mark.

The visitors looked as much of an attacking threat as England, but good work from Jack Grealish earned a penalty with 22 minutes to go and Rashford – captain for the day – converted with aplomb, with Jordan Henderson unable to follow suit from the spot a little later.

Romania looked much sharper than England initially, with Denis Alibec shooting just wide of the top-right corner and Razvan Marin firing at Sam Johnstone following a flowing move.

Florin Nita in the visitors' net had very little to do before having the bar come to his rescue in the 32nd minute, keeping out a ferocious Calvert-Lewin header, and then again six minutes later as Sancho's bending effort following a clever offload by Grealish had left the goalkeeper looking helpless.

But Romania still posed a threat at the other end, with Deian Sorescu testing Johnstone after being released in behind the suspect Tyrone Mings.

An encouraging aspect was the performance of Rashford, who after a difficult spell at club level, did well in the 62nd minute as he collected Calvert-Lewin's lay-off and burst into the Romania half before shooting wide on the stretch after a lung-busting run.

Rashford was decisive soon after, however, coolly slotting in a penalty after Grealish – who was fouled on five occasions more than anyone else – found himself tripped by Tiberiu Capusa.

Henderson, introduced at half-time for his first outing since February, passed up the chance to make it 2-0 from the spot as Nita saved his kick following a foul on Calvert-Lewin by Vlad Chiriches.

That came hot on the heels of Johnstone producing a wonderful stop to thwart Andrei Ivan, with England ultimately settling for the 1-0 win.

Rio Ferdinand has questioned Gareth Southgate's decision to include Harry Maguire in England's Euro 2020 squad and says Marcus Rashford should not be considered for a starting spot.

Maguire was this week named as part of England's final 26-man squad for the tournament, despite missing Manchester United's final five games of the season – including the Europa League final loss to Villarreal – with ankle ligament damage.

He has yet to take part in training since linking up with his Three Lions team-mates, with Southgate admitting on Tuesday he is unsure if the defender will be ready for the Group D opener against Croatia on June 13.

With fears Maguire may not be fit enough to play any part in the group phase, former United centre-back Ferdinand does not believe Maguire should have been selected at the expense of another defender.

"Harry is important from set-pieces, as he showed at the World Cup. But I have to be honest, I wouldn't take players that are 50 per cent fit," said Ferdinand, who was speaking to Stats Perform on behalf of Heineken, an official UEFA Euro 2020 partner. 

"If I'm worried about a player being able to make 90 minutes, I wouldn't take them. Too much energy goes into talking about it and worrying about it, that it takes the focus off what you are there for as a team."

Who to play alongside John Stones in the heart of defence should Maguire fail to win his fitness battle is not the only big selection call Southgate has to make ahead of Euro 2020 getting under way next week.

The England boss is spoiled for choice in the final third, with Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all battling for starting spots alongside captain Harry Kane.

Rashford has scored four goals in his last five appearances for England, but he struggled with a niggling injury issue towards the end of last season and Ferdinand would hold off from using the versatile forward until later in the tournament.

"If you're looking at form, I think Marcus probably doesn't deserve to start," Ferdinand said. "I think of the players around him in that position, Sancho and Foden should be picked in terms of form.

"I don't know much about Gareth's relationship with them players and what they've done in the past for him, and his confidence in certain players. Also, tactically how the game looks, who he is going to play. 

"In terms of form, I think he's scored one in nine or 10 games at the end of the season [for United]. I think he's a bit fatigued and I think he's been carrying a few injuries. I'd like to see him recuperating in this little period of time off, and then come into it fresh."

Of those eight players vying for a starting role in the final third, Aston Villa playmaker Grealish and Borussia Dortmund's Sancho lead the way in terms of big chances created in the league during the 2020-21 campaign with 14 each.

Despite missing 12 matches, Grealish was by far and away the most fouled player in the Premier League last season (110 fouls won), while his 2.68 dribbles completed per 90 minutes was bettered by just six players to have played at least 20 times.

Only Belgium (40) scored more goals than England's 37 in qualifying for Euro 2020 and Ferdinand is particularly excited by the attacking options available to choose from.

"In terms of wide players, we must have some of the biggest talent," he said. "We've got Foden, Sterling, Rashford, Grealish, Sancho, and Mount can play there as well – so six of the most talented, impactful players that are playing at the moment. 

"You look at Sancho, over the last three years has got 30 goal involvements every year, which is astounding for a kid who had been 21 and under. 

"Jack Grealish has been one of the hardest to combat players in the Premier League when he's fit. Phil Foden is deciding games in Champions League knockout stages, for one so young, and Man City are dominating in midfield. 

"It's crazy. You've also got Sterling, with what he's done over the last three years, his trophy haul that he's building at the moment is up there with the best. Those young players, it's mouthwatering."

While a number of positions are up for debate, it is certain that captain Kane – who topped the scoring charts in qualifying – will lead the line for the Three Lions.

Kane won his third Golden Boot after scoring 23 times in 2020-21, becoming the third player after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer to achieve such a feat.

He also set up 14 goals to become just the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists (also Andy Cole in 1993-94).

The Tottenham striker's future is a hot topic of debate heading into the tournament after recently admitting he is at a "crossroads" in his career, but Ferdinand does not expect that to have any sort of impact on his performances.

"It happens to the best players," he said. "These players we're talking about with speculation, like Sancho and Kane, they have this every day of the week. This is normal for them, they are just in a tournament, that's the only difference.

"I think Harry has shown he enjoys wearing the armband. He enjoys the responsibility, some players grow with it. This tournament, I'd like to see that."

 

Ferdinand was speaking as part of Heineken's 'Enjoy the Rivalry' campaign, which encourages fans to watch Euro 2020 matches alongside their rivals.

The United legend was pranked by fellow former pro Robbie Savage as part of the initiative, culminating in the ex-England international having his portrait draped in a flag of rivals Wales.

"I was a bit surprised, I've got to be honest," he said. "I was probably being a bit too polite because there were two young ladies in front of me and I didn't want to be... well I saw the Welsh flag and I thought what are these people playing at?

"They don't understand the rivalry that we have with Wales and all of a sudden they drape me in a Welsh flag. It was weird.

"I think 'finally together again to be rivals', is a perfect strapline. I think everyone's waited for this opportunity, to have some sort of rivalry with teams, with people, with individuals."

The year-long delay to Euro 2020 has shifted the narrative for a host of stars, and meant the long wait for a return to the big stage has been extended for others.

Now, though, Europe's elite are set to battle it out as Portugal defend the title they won in France five years ago.

Some players enter the competition in great form and with little baggage, but for others this month-long tournament is a chance to make a big splash, or live up to long-held expectations.

Here, Stats Perform looks at two famous footballing nations, four big-name stars and a coach who bows out of his current job and may have designs on his next assignment.

Gareth Bale: Finished or a new beginning?

The wing wizard can do little wrong in the eyes of Wales and Tottenham supporters, and perhaps now there is a glimmer of hope for his Real Madrid career.

At the end of a season-long loan at Spurs, it seemed likely Bale would head back to Madrid and spend the final year of his contract largely on the sidelines. His future looked to be one of training, playing the odd Copa del Rey game and making fleeting LaLiga appearances, and spending his happiest hours on the region's best golf courses.

Now that Zinedine Zidane has moved on, that could change all of a sudden, and Bale has an immediate chance to make an impression on new Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti when he captains Wales at the Euros.

Bale joined Madrid in 2013, when Ancelotti was embarking on his first spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, but his career in Spain looked to have all but conked out 12 months ago.

The door certainly seems open for the 31-year-old to do just that as, in his presentation news conference at Madrid, Ancelotti said: "Gareth has not played much in the Premier League [in 2020-21], but he scored lots of goals, and was very effective in recent games when he had a chance to play.

"He is coming back, I know him very well, he will be motivated to play better and have a great season, no doubt."

At Spurs, he scored 16 goals across all competitions at an average of one every 104.44 minutes, and his match fitness appeared to be building up nicely when the season ended.

Bale exceeded his expected goals (xG) total of 11.07 quite handsomely, and for the first time since the 2015-16 season he scored more goals than he had big chances.

He had 15 such chances, defined by Opta as situations "where a player should reasonably be expected to score".

Bale is said by some observers to be considering retiring after Euro 2020, but that could be a waste of a still-luminous talent and Ancelotti is sure to be closely watching.

Eden Hazard: Brilliant Belgian has been a Real disappointment

So often sparkling for Belgium and Chelsea in the past, Hazard has left Madrid supporters wondering what has happened to that fizz since he landed in Spain.

He started just seven games in LaLiga in the season just ended, a string of muscle injuries and a spell out with COVID-19 ruining his campaign.

When fit enough to feature, the forward's numbers have been way down on those that he produced – to take a pertinent example – during Belgium's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

A fair way of assessing his figures is to look at how Hazard contributes for every 90 minutes he is involved with club and country, and the comparison between his displays in Belgium's run to reach this tournament and in 2020-21 at Madrid shows an alarming dip.

His chances created total per 90 minutes falls from 4.6 to 1.0, his number of touches of the ball slides from 95.1 to 73.8, and his dribbles attempted plummet from 7.4 with Belgium to 4.2 in Madrid's season.

His involvements in shot-ending sequences of play fall from 10.8 to 4.9 per 90 minutes, and analysis of goal-ending sequences shows his contribution drops from 1.9 with Belgium to 0.8 per 90 minutes with Madrid.

It bears remembering that Hazard has not had the run of games that would give him full match fitness. If Real Madrid fans want any succour, they can find it in his Belgium statistics and must hope the coming month sees the 30-year-old roll back his form a couple of years.

A fit and firing Hazard would be a huge asset to Ancelotti, who is expecting the former Chelsea star to have an impact next term.

"Hazard is a top player, he has had injury problems, and not shown his top potential yet here," Ancelotti said. "I believe he can do that next year, he wants to, is motivated."

 

Karim Benzema: Have France really missed him?

Nobody doubts Benzema's ability or his current form. Firing 23 goals for Real Madrid in LaLiga showed he is coming into Euro 2020 in great shape.

The thing is: few expected him to play any part in this tournament.

Off-field matters and an impending court case have seen Benzema frozen out by France, the 33-year-old sidelined from international duty since 2015 following allegations he had a part in a plot to blackmail former Les Bleus player Mathieu Valbuena.

Benzema strenuously denies any wrongdoing and for the duration of Euro 2020 he will aim to show what France have been missing in his absence. They managed to win the 2018 World Cup without him, and reach the final of Euro 2016, yet coach Didier Deschamps has decided his team need Benzema's presence for the coming month.

It could be a masterstroke or could go disastrously wrong, with France a national team who have combusted before during a big tournament.

Benzema last year made the snippy remark that Olivier Giroud was a go-kart and he, by contrast, was a Formula One car, but now they are rivals for selection.

Squad harmony is vital at any major championship, and Benzema's presence brings that little extra frisson. This gamble could go either way. Watching him and France will be fascinating.

Marcus Rashford: Making his pitch for a better England

Manchester United striker Rashford has been a pandemic social justice warrior, emerging as an inspirational figure as he battled for school children to avoid food poverty.

There is so much to admire about the 23-year-old Mancunian, who has also faced – and faced down – appalling racism on social media.

It would take a cold, cruel heart to begrudge Rashford a major moment on the pitch now, and that could come with England over the coming weeks.

On the international scene since just before Euro 2016, Rashford is now fixtures-and-fittings within the Three Lions set-up, but he has still yet to score at a World Cup or European Championship.

Before June's pre-Euros friendlies he had 40 caps and 11 goals and will want to improve his so-so goals-to-games ratio, which is partly explained by the fact only 20 of those caps came as a starter.

Golden Boot winner Harry Kane carried so much of the scoring burden for England at the last World Cup, and sometimes it takes two. Rashford scored three times in Euro 2020 qualifying and is coming off a 21-goal campaign with United, scoring on average once every 197.76 minutes.

The man who is effecting positive change in the way many live their lives, influencing politicians and shaping a better future for millions, could now do his country a massive favour on the football field.

 

Scotland: They're back, thanks to Mourinho's former right-hand man

Few in the Scotland team are long enough in the teeth to remember the last time the Tartan Army descended on a major tournament.

It was 1998, with the Scots giving Brazil a major test in the opening game at the Stade de France. A draw followed against Norway followed the 2-1 loss to the Selecao, before a dismal defeat to Morocco meant the campaign ended in crushing disappointment.

Hopes have flickered and foundered in the decades since, but Steve Clarke, once an assistant boss to Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, has led his team back to the big time.

With the likes of Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay and Che Adams, they possess Premier League quality, and two games Hampden promise to be nourishing for the soul.

Scotland is an expectant nation. That tends to end in intense disappointment at major tournaments, but optimism abounds as the games approach, the June 18 clash with England at Wembley ringed in the diary.

Italy: Blue skies again for Azzurri

It felt absurd that Italy should be absent from the 2018 World Cup, but they failed the meritocracy test of qualification when losing a play-off to Sweden.

That meant they were absent from football's great global gathering for the first time since 1958, and coach Gian Piero Ventura was swiftly given the heave-ho.

Enter Roberto Mancini, the former Inter and Manchester City boss who has led a scorching revival of the Azzurri, a team who won all 10 of their qualifiers and headed into June on a 26-game unbeaten run.

Wales, Turkey and Switzerland are the group-stage opposition for Italy, and the Turkey game in Istanbul gets the tournament underway.

They are a team perhaps without a superstar, but as Paolo Rossi and Toto Schillaci would attest, iconic Italian figures can emerge on the big stage.

Joachim Low: Hit for six, Germany go back to the future

After 15 years, Low will step down as Germany head coach following these finals. Many in Germany think he should have stepped aside already, but Low has powerful support within the DFB, the national federation.

A 6-0 defeat to Spain in the Nations League last November felt like an appalling nadir, with Germany outshot 23-2 in Seville and having just 30 per cent of possession.

Something had to change and it has, with Low summoning Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels out of the international exile he harshly imposed on the experienced pair over two years ago.

Low felt he could do without their talents but it proved a major misstep, and for Germany's sake they are back. What Low does next remains to be seen, but a strong Euro 2020 campaign with Germany would bolster his chances of landing any elite club job.

The 61-year-old was a World Cup winner seven years ago, but the most immediately telling part of his legacy will be written during this European summer.

Marcus Rashford and Manchester United have condemned social media users who allegedly racially abused the England star after Wednesday's Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.

United lost 11-10 to Villarreal on penalties following a marathon shoot-out after the sides could not be split at the conclusion of extra time, with the score 1-1 in Gdansk.

Rashford received online racial abuse in January after United's 0-0 Premier League draw against Arsenal and said he was subject to similar comments again, prompting the forward to call them out.

The England international said he had seen "at least 70 racial slurs" on his social media account following the defeat.

"At least 70 racial slurs on my social accounts counted so far," Rashford wrote on Twitter. "For those working to make me feel any worse than I already do, good luck trying."

United swiftly backed Rashford, condemning the racial abuse on social media.

"Following the #UEL final, our players were subjected to disgraceful racist abuse," the official United account tweeted. "If you see any form of abuse or discrimination, act and report it."

After the racial abuse in January, Rashford described the slurs as society at its worst.

"Humanity and social media at its worst. Yes I'm a black man and I live every day proud that I am," Rashford wrote on Twitter at the time.

"No one, or no one comment, is going to make me feel any different. So sorry if you were looking for a strong reaction, you're just simply not going to get it here.

"I'm not sharing screenshots. It would be irresponsible to do so and as you can imagine there's nothing original in them.

"I have beautiful children of all colours following me and they don't need to read it. Beautiful colours that should only be celebrated."

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford vented his frustration after the shock Europa League final loss to Villarreal, insisting finishing second counts for nothing, though he is confident the Red Devils are on the right path under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United were looking to win their first trophy with Solskjaer at the helm, however, the Premier League giants were upstaged by Unai Emery's Villarreal following a marathon 11-10 penalty shoot-out on Wednesday.

Penalties were needed after the match ended 1-1 at the conclusion of extra time in Gdansk, where Edinson Cavani's 55th-minute goal cancelled out Gerard Moreno's first-half opener for Villarreal.

United goalkeeper David de Gea missed the only spot-kick as Solskjaer's men – who have not won silverware since 2016-17 – fell short following their second-placed finish in the Premier League this season.

"It's disappointing. The feeling is difficult to explain," Rashford told BT Sport. "We came here to win. We've been working so hard all season and this was the opportunity to win a trophy.

"Maybe not now, but we need to look back at the game and see where we can improve.

"The team will not give up, the manager will not give up. We'll come next season with a bigger desire. People say a lot about Manchester United, but for me the hunger, desire, talent and ability – we have everything to compete at the highest level.

"We just have to show it to the world and to ourselves, why we belong in places like this."

United have lost six of their last seven penalty shoot-outs in all competitions, only winning against Rochdale in the EFL Cup in September 2019 during that time.

When facing an English side in a European competition final (including Super Cups), Spanish sides have taken home the trophy in the last 10 such finals, with United accounting for four of those defeats (2009 and 2011 Champions League, 2017 Super Cup and 2021 Europa League).

"Second doesn't count for nothing. I don't want to hear, 'oh they were so close'. It doesn't mean anything. We have to make sure we don't lose," added Rashford.

"To win big trophies you have to show sacrifice. I can show you six, seven players who've been carrying injuries since September. We have to go away now and clear our heads.

"When Ole came in there was a process. We believe in the process and this isn't the end of the process. Just because we've lost today, I promise the fans that we won't give up.

"We have to do our best on the pitch. We're close, I promise we're close, but close isn't good enough."

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford admitted former manager Jose Mourinho's style of play prevented him from playing his best football.

Mourinho spent two and a half years in charge of United, where he worked with Rashford before being sacked by the Premier League giants in 2018.

Rashford scored five league goals during Mourinho's first season in 2016-17 and followed that up with another seven in 2017-18 as the Portuguese often preferred either Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Romelu Lukaku at the time.

The 23-year-old Rashford, who won the Europa League, EFL Cup and Community Shield during Mourinho's tenure, finished with just 15 Premier League goals under the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss prior to his sacking midway through the 2018-19 season.

England international Rashford has since flourished under Mourinho's replacement Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as he reflected on the Portuguese's tenure in Manchester.

"I think that's when we play our best football [when we can be flexible]," Rashford told BT Sport when asked if Mourinho allowed the players to express themselves in attack.

"Under Jose I would say everything was a bit [points] 'you play there, you play there, you play there'.

"And yeah, you can do a job, but it was difficult for me to play my best football."

Having scored a career-best 17 Premier League goals in 2019-20, Rashford has 10 goals this season and 20 across all competitions.

Rashford has broken the 20-goal mark for United in back-to-back seasons under Solskjaer.

His form has helped United to second in the Premier League and a Europa League final berth against Villarreal.

Rashford, meanwhile, has scored more Premier League goals against Leicester City than he has versus any other side in the competition (five) as the Red Devils prepare to host Brendan Rodgers' team on Tuesday.

Marcus Rashford appeared to take a stance against the European Super League as he shared a famous Matt Busby quotation.

Manchester United star Rashford posted an image on Twitter of a banner at Old Trafford adorned with words uttered by club legend Busby, who said: "Football is nothing without fans."

The England international has been a vocal supporter of social causes, campaigning for free meals during school holidays for underprivileged children in the United Kingdom, and speaking out against racism.

His post comes in the wake of Sunday's announcement of a breakaway league, with United among the six Premier League clubs involved, joined by three from Spain and another trio of Italian teams.

The response has been one of widespread criticism from all quarters, with supporters from across the spectrum outraged at what would constitute a seismic and largely unwanted shift in the football landscape.

Comments from current managers and players have been thin on the ground and generally guarded, but it has been reported that Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is seeking to organise a meeting of Premier League skippers to agree on a course of action.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp had his say on Monday, while midfielder James Milner was direct in his criticism, declaring: "I don't like it and hopefully it doesn't happen."

Meanwhile, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola expressed reservations over any closed-shop competition that would remove the relationship "between effort and success", adding that "this is not sport".

Governing bodies such as UEFA and the Premier League have warned that member clubs will face sanctions if they proceed with the plans.

Former Manchester United star Chris Smalling has spoken of the "harm and distress" his family felt after an armed burglary at their home in Rome.

Now playing for Roma, who will face United in the Europa League semi-finals, the 31-cap England international had his home raided in the early hours of Friday.

According to reports in Italy, Smalling handed over three Rolex watches, jewellery and money to the three men who entered the property in the Appia Antica district of Italy's capital.

Police were called after the terrifying incident, and 31-year-old Smalling wrote on Twitter on Saturday: "I'd like to thank everyone for your well wishes and support! My family although very shaken up are luckily unharmed!

"Hoping these people can find a more meaningful way to live their lives without causing such harm and distress to others."

Former United team-mate Marcus Rashford sent a message of support to Smalling on Friday, saying he was "so sorry" to hear of the break-in.

Rashford added: "Thinking about you @ChrisSmalling and your lovely family. Can’t imagine how you're feeling but I hope you're ok."

Smalling has been injured recently and did not play on Thursday when Roma edged past Ajax to reach the Europa League last four.

Marcus Rashford is a doubt for Manchester United's Premier League clash with Burnley on Sunday, boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed.

The England international did not make it off the substitutes' bench during United's 2-0 win over Granada on Thursday, a result which sealed a 4-0 aggregate victory to book a Europa League semi-final against Roma.

Rashford – who is suffering from an ongoing foot injury – took his tally to 20 for the season in the first leg, making him the first United player to hit double figures in consecutive campaigns since Wayne Rooney 11 years ago.

The 23-year-old has missed just three games for United this season and Solskajer said he will give Rashford as long as he needs to prove his fitness. 

"It's a big bonus that he didn't have to put any pressure on his foot [against Granada]," Solskjaer told a media conference. "I have got to hope he can be available and not make it worse. That is the decision I have got to make, so fingers crossed.

"He wasn't due to be on the bench really. He didn't train yesterday [Wednesday] but, just in case, he put his hand up and said 'if needed, I could do a job'. 

"So, it is a decision I have got to make on Sunday morning. But he is important for us. It is a difficult one. You have to go by how Marcus feels in a couple of days."

United host Burnley at Old Trafford looking to win five consecutive Premier League games for the first time since they won their first six under Solskjaer's leadership in January 2019. 

While another three points would take them another step closer to sealing a top-four finish, it is unlikely to help them rein in leaders Manchester City, who have an 11-point lead over their neighbours, having played a game more. 

Solskjaer is not prepared to write off United's title chances just yet, but he does concede it seems improbable that City will drop enough points to allow them back into the race. 

"Of course we'll never give up," he said. "Manchester United will never, ever give up. This club has had too many setbacks and too many great comebacks to have it in our DNA. 

"Is it realistic? No, probably not. When you have a team that is so consistent as Manchester City have been, you don't expect them to lose three games of the last six. 

"As long as we do our job, we want to finish the season strong and go one game at a time."

With a seven-point lead over Leicester City, United look well placed to improve on their third-placed finish last season. 

While Solskjaer is pleased with his side's progress this term, he will not be satisfied until they have won the Premier League title for the first time since Alex Ferguson's last season in charge in 2012-13. 

"You've got to make progress, step by step, that's the reality," he explained. "If we can manage second place and keep winning and get second, if Man City win all games and we win ours, you want to finish strongly. 

"Third last year, second this, close to a trophy. It's progress. It's not the end game; the end game is winning the league. But we are not in the era of Sir Alex and we've had a transformation period since he left.

"But it's progress, step by step, and if we do that well enough, that is when you get trophies and league titles which, of course, is our ambition."

Marcus Rashford sent his support to Chris Smalling after the former Manchester United defender was reportedly a victim of an armed burglary.

Smalling and his family were said to have been at home in the Appia Antica district of Rome when three men with guns broke into the property and demanded a safe be opened.

The burglars reportedly fled with Rolex watches and jewellery and a small sum of cash.

La Gazzetta dello Sport said that a call to police was made by Smalling's wife at around 05:00 local time (04:00 GMT) on Friday, with an investigation subsequently launched.

United striker Rashford sent a message to his former club-mate, writing on Twitter: "Thinking about you @ChrisSmalling and your lovely family. So sorry to wake up to the news this morning. Can’t imagine how you're feeling but I hope you're ok."

Smalling has been injured recently and did not play on Thursday when Roma edged past Ajax to reach the Europa League semi-finals, with United awaiting them in the last four.

Edinson Cavani staying for a second season at Manchester United would benefit not just the team on the pitch but also the development of the club's young forwards, according to Gary Neville.

Cavani scored his seventh league goal of the campaign on Sunday, heading in a cross from Mason Greenwood to put United 2-1 ahead against Tottenham.

Substitute Greenwood added a third in stoppage time to wrap up the victory, with Neville believing the young England international's development - along with that of club and country colleague Marcus Rashford – can only be helped by working regularly with Cavani.

The Uruguayan signed as a free agent and while United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains hopeful the player will remain at the club, speculation has suggested the striker wants to return to South America.

"Tottenham had a throw with two minutes to go, and Cavani was moving between the centre-backs trying to stop the ball from being thrown in, and he's organising where Mason Greenwood should be," Neville explained on his podcast for Sky Sports. "I thought, 'Greenwood needs another year of Cavani being alongside him.'

"It inspired us as young players when you saw great players like Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce and Eric Cantona and Mark Hughes.

"You see the best players in the world, or those who have been the best in the world like Cavani, doing his work like that in the 94th minute, someone like Greenwood, who needs people who are mentors, good standards above him, who can coach him on the pitch, I just thought him and Marcus Rashford need another year of Cavani.

"He's been a really brilliant example. I was a little bit nervous of him coming in, because of [Radamel] Falcao, Alexis Sanchez, showcase signings. This one has been different. He's really applied himself brilliantly and has been a big help to Manchester United.

"He does the right things. The right movements. It's clockwork, that run across the defender, across the near post, the one you're always trying to get young strikers to do."

Cavani has scored eight times in all competitions since his arrival at Old Trafford, averaging out at a goal every 195.5 minutes – only Bruno Fernandes and Rashford have managed more.

However, the former Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain player has a better shot conversion rate (20.5 per cent) than both that pair, demonstrating his value to the side.

Solskjaer made clear after the away triumph at Spurs that he remains hopeful the 34-year-old will be part of his squad for the 2021-22 season.

"He knows my feelings; I know his feelings. He's not made up his mind yet," the United boss told the media.

"I understand that it's been a difficult year for everyone, but for a new lad who doesn't speak English, not to feel the English culture, to go see people, have friends around... it's in the back of your head if this is what you want, you know you can't have your family over.

"Fingers crossed, but if he decides that it's just this season, then we've been very, very fortunate to have him here."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is "pretty, pretty sure" his Manchester United players will be looking to prove a point when they visit Tottenham on Sunday.

United lost the reverse fixture 6-1 at Old Trafford, their joint-heaviest Premier League defeat and worst since another home humbling in the 2011 Manchester derby.

Spurs looked like title contenders while United were marooned in the bottom half of the table, their hapless display - in which Anthony Martial was sent off - described by former captain Gary Neville as "spineless" and "absolutely pathetic".

But United have recovered to sit second in the table, albeit 14 points behind Manchester City, while Tottenham are sixth.

Jose Mourinho's men are desperate for points but will face motivated opponents at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Solskjaer suggested.

"I think the players will remember that game with a lot of pain," Solskjaer said. "Their pride has been hurt, their professional pride. The manner we lost is not ourselves and our team-worthy. We know that.

"We gave ourselves a difficult game by having 10 men, pre-season was short and we were not up to the standard required, but we were so poor.

"I'm pretty, pretty sure we'll see some players wanting to prove we're better than that."

United took the lead in that match through a second-minute Bruno Fernandes penalty, but that was one of just five shots while Spurs attempted 22.

Solskjaer felt his side's early-season fitness issues were a key contributing factor in that October defeat.

"The biggest thing that we've improved on is our fitness levels," he said. "We were way short of what [Tottenham] were at.

"It was our third game, was it? And we didn't look anything like [ready]."

While that is no longer an issue, there are concerns about the status of Marcus Rashford, who played through a persistent ankle problem at Granada on Thursday and scored a vital goal.

Across Europe's 'top five' leagues, no player has made more appearances in all competitions this season than Rashford (47 - tied with Fernandes).

Indeed, the three most-used players all represent United, with captain Harry Maguire third (46 appearances). Aaron Wan-Bissaka is in a tie for fourth (44).

With 3,466 minutes in the tank despite an injury issue that kept him out of the recent international break, Solskjaer was asked if England should be worried about Rashford ahead of the European Championship.

"I don't think you need to be concerned about his fitness, no - of course, barring any injury," Solskjaer said.

"His fitness is really good, he's an athletic boy, a fit boy, a strong boy. When he goes into headers and challenges, he can look after himself.

"But at one point, of course, you hope to get to a position where he doesn't have to play every game, every minute.

"At the moment, we have to take him off because he's a little bit sore. Hopefully that will improve as the season goes on."

Rashford has been relied on so heavily in part due to Edinson Cavani's limited involvement.

Widely linked with a move to Boca Juniors, Cavani has started only 14 games this term, playing 1,474 minutes, although his tally of seven goals is a match for Martial and outperforms Mason Greenwood (six).

"I've kept in touch with Edi, of course," Solksjaer said. "We keep an open dialogue. He's still unsure what he wants to do next season, which I find fine.

"It's not been an easy year either for him or the rest of the world, so he still wants time to make his mind up.

"I'm very sure that we'll get a good version of Edinson for the rest of the season. Hopefully we can keep him fit the next six, seven weeks."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was proud of the battling qualities displayed by Marcus Rashford as he played through the pain to help Manchester United beat Granada.

Troubled by a niggling ankle problem, Rashford opened the scoring at the Nuevo Los Carmenes on Thursday, latching onto Victor Lindelof's long pass before finishing with composure.

The goal took Rashford to 20 for the season in all competitions, making him the first United player to hit double figures in consecutive campaigns since Wayne Rooney 11 years ago.

The England forward, who was taken off 10 minutes after scoring in last weekend's 2-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion, battled on against Granada before being substituted with a little over 25 minutes left.

Solskjaer, who hopes Rashford will be fit to face Tottenham on Sunday, was delighted with Rashford's impact against stubborn opposition.

"Marcus, fantastic goal," he said. "Great pass by Victor, great run and the skill to bring the ball down like this, we've seen it a few times before, and it's a top, top quality goal.

"It's the same thing as before, he's not recovered from it. Hopefully, it's not got any worse from this. He lasted 60 or 70 against Brighton, 65 now, so hopefully he's ready. I think he should be ready for Sunday."

When asked if he ever told former manager Alex Ferguson he was fully fit to play when struggling with injury, Solskjaer replied: "Yeah, I probably did! I did a few times. It's not like I couldn't perform, but I probably knew I wasn't at 100 per cent. But when are you at 100 per cent as a footballer? I think that's very rare.

"We know he's someone we have to protect, and he was ready, and he was vital for us today."

While comfortable in defence, United offered little threat of a second goal until Bruno Fernandes scored his 19th penalty for the club after being pushed in the face by Yan Eteki.

The Portugal star, who was struggling with his vision in one eye after the foul, squeezed a shot beneath goalkeeper Rui Silva in the 90th minute.

With Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay suspended for the second leg after receiving yellow cards, Solskjaer was relieved to be heading back to Old Trafford with a more commanding advantage.

"It was an important goal, the second one. A 1-0 lead, losing three players, is not a good position to be in," he said.

"I don't think we deserved those five yellow cards, but that's happened. I'm delighted with the result, of course.

"[The second goal] is so vital away from home and we've created a good starting point for ourselves next week.

"Scoring with one eye is a skill! He drives the team and drives himself. He's got such enthusiasm and hunger to win and to do well. I've played in teams with a lot stronger personalities than that, to be honest.

"That's the way for us to improve and reach the next level: always demand more, and more, and more."

Shaw was taken off at half-time, but Solskjaer added of the left-back: "I had to protect Luke, but I think and hope he should be okay for the weekend."

Page 3 of 6
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.