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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 August 2018

Returning Marcus Rashford provides boost to England's World Cup chances

Rashford, 20, conspicuous by absence as Gareth Southgate's squad steps up preparations for Monday's Group G clash against Tunisia in Volgograd

Marcus Rashford's return is good news for England manager Gareth Southgate, who has so far avoided any other injury scares. Anton Vaganov / Reuters
Marcus Rashford's return is good news for England manager Gareth Southgate, who has so far avoided any other injury scares. Anton Vaganov / Reuters

Marcus Rashford is set to boost England's World Cup preparations by returning to training on Friday.

Rashford, 20, has been conspicuous by his absence as Gareth Southgate's squad stepped up preparations for Monday's Group G clash against Tunisia in Volgograd.

Rashford missed Wednesday's first training session on Russian soil with a knee issue that again kept him out on Thursday, when he stayed at the team's forRestMix Club hotel in Repino.

However, the Manchester United forward is set to join in with his teammates for the first time in Russia as they train at the Spartak Zelenogorsk Stadium on Friday.

The 'Lions' Den' show on England's YouTube channel showed footage of Rashford in individual training, before confirming he took part in a light session after the other 22 players trained fully and should rejoin the main group.

Rashford's return is good news for Southgate, who has so far avoided any other injury scares and kept the initial 23-man squad he named in mid-May intact.

The England manager revealed Rashford's "slight knock" upon landing in Russia and a number of teammates attempted to allay concerns, as did the forward himself.

"Thanks for the messages I've been getting," Rashford posted on Twitter. "Picked up a slight niggle but nothing to worry about #ThreeLions"

All eyes will be on Rashford during the 15-minute segment of training open to the media on Friday as he renews his bid for a starting berth against Tunisia.

He had bolstered his chances of starting the Group G opener with a man-of-the-match display in last week's 2-0 friendly send-off win against Costa Rica.

"For me, at the end of the season, he cares so much you can see he was trying too hard," Southgate said of the Manchester United forward following the win at Elland Road.

"I said to all of the team before the game 'I expect to see mistakes tonight and if I don't there'd probably be a problem because we won't be trying to be as good as we might'.

"With attacking players in particular, if they're going to try things and take people on and be creative, they're going to lose the ball and they're going to make errors.

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"But then they might produce some of the moments we saw from Marcus tonight.

"I mean the goal was world-class, really, but he's teasing defenders by the touchline and his performance wasn't perfect, but he was enjoying his football and that was great to see."

Rashford's knee issue meant he was the only squad member absent from training on Thursday morning, when England players and staff observed a minute's silence to mark the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Southgate's team showed their respect for those who lost their lives in last summer's tragedy in London before training, where a number of staff wore Grenfell green heart badges.

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