Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has urged Marcus Rashford to think carefully about his “choices and timing” after the forward’s reported Belfast escapades led to an internal disciplinary.
The homegrown 26-year-old has performed poorly this season, scoring just four times, and the England international’s decision-making away from the pitch has also come under scrutiny.
Rashford went to a nightclub party after October’s embarrassing 3-0 home derby defeat to Manchester City – something his manager Erik ten Hag went on to call “unacceptable”.
The United academy product is back under the microscope after reportedly spending Thursday night in a Belfast nightclub, where he apparently stayed out until 3am before flying back to Manchester.
Ten Hag said the following day that Rashford was unable to train as he “was ill” and, having missed Sunday’s FA Cup win at Newport, the club said in a statement that “Marcus has taken responsibility for his actions”.
United called it an “internal disciplinary matter” that it is now closed, with former skipper Neville – Rashford’s former coach with England – hoping he learns from this experience.
“To me, going out for a drink or going out for a night out is something that every football player should do and will do, so I’ve got no problem with that whatsoever,” he said.
“They need to enjoy themselves. It’s just all about choices and timing.
“I said this after the Manchester City game. We got beat home by City a few months ago and he went out last night to Chinawhite. I think it was for his birthday.
“I think we had a game against Newcastle on the Wednesday in the Carabao Cup or something like that and I just said ‘look, choose your time’.
“I think Manchester United have just had a winter break. They’ve had a couple of weeks off, so there was a better moment for him to choose to go out.
“So, I would say go out, have your moment where you relax with your friends, but just your timing’s got to be right.”
United say Rashford is back in training and available for selection for Thursday’s Premier League match at Wolves after days of unwanted headlines.
Manager Ten Hag is sure be quizzed on the matter at his pre-match press conference scheduled for Wednesday lunchtime.
Asked what former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson would have done with Rashford, Neville told the BBC: “He would have given him a dressing down.
“But he would have said similar things – make sure you do it at the right moments, the right time.
“No-one ever says to a football player ‘you cannot go out’ but obviously when you’ve got a game three days later… Marcus himself knows.
“He’s an experienced player, we’re not talking about a young lad, but he’s done it a couple of times in the last few months.
“I’ve always seen Marcus as being really responsible, a good professional, someone who works hard every single day and, look, he’s going through a dip in form at this moment in time.
“But it’s happened once, it’s now happened twice, and it sometimes can become your personality if you’re not careful.
“If you do it too many times, people can start to say ‘well, what’s happening in his life?’
“So, he just needs to relax, calm down, drink a bit of cacao, choose when to go out and get back to playing football at the levels which we know he can.”