England’s Euro 2021 Squad: A Cautionary Tale of Rashford and Greenwood

The news came as a surprise to some. Just before Gareth Southgate announced his 26-man squad for Euro 2021, Mason Greenwood announced he would be withdrawing. The 19-year-old Manchester United forward, considered by many to be one of the world’s great teenage talents, cited underlying injuries and fatigue as the reason for withdrawing. To be frank, Greenwood was on the periphery anyway – a likely substitute. But his talent is such that many believe he would have ‘grown into’ the tournament, a kind of secret weapon that Southgate could unleash off the bench.

Mason Greenwood Pulls Out of England Euro Squad With Injury

Greenwood Withdraws From England Euro Squad

But Greenwood has been applauded for his maturity, giving up the dream of now for the promise of a brighter future for club and country. It’s not uncommon for players to play through an injury, but the accumulative wear and tear on the body can destroy careers. There is a reason that managers try to protect young players by not overusing them. Greenwood played 52 times for Manchester United this season, and he has appeared over 100 times for the club. The potential for burnout is real, particularly when carrying underlying injuries.

(Photo by Dave Thompson – Pool/Getty Images)

England Among Favourites But Fatigue is a Worry

Greenwood’s withdrawal has not hit England’s preparations too much. You can get 5/1 on the 3 Lions when betting on football with 888 sport, making Southgate’s men second-favourites. But you would worry about the levels of fatigue in the team after a long season. Don’t forget: three English clubs made it to the Champions League (Manchester City and Chelsea) and Europa League Finals (Manchester United). It was a brutal season for many English clubs, especially given the lack of preseason preparation last summer.

We won’t speculate too much on England’s chances. But we wanted to look at a player with whom Greenwood draws many parallels. Both players burst onto the scene at an early age, and both are seen as integral parts of Manchester United’s present and future. Marcus Rashford (57 games) has also been used a lot this season. And, he too has played through injury – something that has caused much consternation among United fans. In April 2021, Rashford admitted he was playing with a foot injury, and it’s not clear whether it has healed. There is also speculation that Rashford never recovered from a double fracture to the back sustained in January 2020.

Rashford Has Played a Lot For Manchester United in a Short Career

Now, we are not saying that Rashford should have withdrawn from the England team. But what we are saying is that Greenwood’s withdrawal will surely help the player and Manchester United next season and beyond. Rashford is approaching 300 appearances for United. That’s impressive for a 23-year-old, but it is also a lot of game time for a young man. This is not an English question alone – Bruno Fernandes played 58 times for Manchester United this season – and will surely be feeling that in his legs when he plays for Portugal.

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(Photo by Laurence Griffiths – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)
There are around five weeks between the Final of Euro 2021 on the 11th of July and the start of the Premier League season in mid-August. That’s scant time for a player to recover and build up fitness again ahead of the new season. Yes, this is always an issue in summers when there is a major tournament, but, again, the relentless scheduling of football over the last nine months will take a toll. Rashford and Greenwood were playing Premier League football in July last summer, the Europa League in August. It takes a toll.

Greenwood’s decision seems a smart one, and let’s hope one of the best young talents in world football can reap the benefits. As for Rashford, it is not for us to judge the player. However, we would be worried that a gruelling schedule might impact the future development of a player who, like Greenwood, was expected to take the footballing world by storm.

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