England manager Roy Hodgson said Marcus Rashford could follow the example of Dele Alli after naming the 18-year-old Manchester United striker in his provisional Euro 2016 squad on Monday.
Rashford only made his senior United debut in February, but having scored seven goals in his first 16 appearances, he now has an outside chance of making Hodgson’s final squad for the tournament in France.
Alli, 20, was playing third-tier football for Milton Keynes Dons last season, but the Tottenham Hotspur starlet is now a potential England starter, convincing Hodgson of the value of selection gambles.
Asked if it might be a case of ‘too much, too soon’ for Rashford, Hodgson replied: “We’ll see. That’s always a danger, I suppose. The alternative of course is that because you’re fearful of that danger, you don’t select those types of players.
“If I’d have been that fearful of selecting players, I’d have missed out on quite a few good ones. I’m thinking in particular of Dele Alli, but I think that would apply also to people like Danny Rose and (Eric) Dier and Jamie Vardy.
“If you remember, Jamie Vardy now is on everybody’s lips, but he wasn’t a year ago in June when I selected him. Then he was a major surprise.”
Hodgson was speaking to journalists at Wembley after unveiling his provisional 26-man squad, which must be reduced to 23 by the end of the month.
As well as Rashford, there was also a place for in-form Newcastle United winger Andros Townsend, who was preferred to Arsenal’s Theo Walcott as the replacement for Walcott’s injured club-mate Danny Welbeck.
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson were also selected, despite only recently returning to action following spells on the sidelines.
Hodgson did not speak to Rashford prior to announcing his squad, but he did call Walcott, Everton defender Phil Jagielka and Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick to explain why they had not been selected.
In Jagielka’s absence, Hodgson picked only three recognised centre-backs in Chelsea’s Gary Cahill, Everton’s John Stones and Chris Smalling of Manchester United.
Eric Dier can also slot in at centre-back, having been playing there until he was converted into a holding midfielder by Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino this season.
England managers past have been able to call upon central defenders of the calibre of John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell, but Hodgson said that he was happy with the defensive options at his disposal.
“I wouldn’t call it a crisis at centre-back,” he said. “I believe the ones we’ve chosen are good enough.”
Hodgson, who revealed that he will test a 4-3-3 formation in one of the three forthcoming friendlies against Turkey, Australia and Portugal, also defended his decision to pick Wilshere.
The 24-year-old central midfielder only made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday, having been sidelined since August with a fractured shin.
“He’s there on merit. He’s a special player,” Hodgson said. “We don’t have lots and lots of Jack Wilsheres available. There are other areas of the field where my choice is very great.
“But for Jack Wilshere it’s a bit different, so he deserves a chance to show that he’s fit and capable of playing at the level he played when he was playing for us in the autumn.
“I’ve got at least a couple of matches where I can test those things out, as well as the training sessions.”