Erik ten Hag has backed Marcus Rashford to make England’s World Cup squad despite the injured forward being set to miss out on a Nations League international recall.
Rashford has started the campaign in promising fashion for United and was expected to be named in Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad on Thursday for the forthcoming games against Italy and Germany.
But the 24-year-old is still feeling the effects of an injury picked up in the 3-1 Premier League victory over Arsenal on September 4, when he scored twice to take his season’s tally to three.
Having sat out United’s opening Europa League tie, a 1-0 home defeat to Real Sociedad, Rashford will again be missing for their second group game away to Sheriff Tiraspol on Thursday.
“He’s not available. The consequence after Arsenal, he has a muscle injury,” Ten Hag said at his pre-match press conference.
Asked whether Rashford can now make England’s World Cup squad in Qatar, he added: “It’s quite obvious and quite clear (he can).
“He played really good seasons and this season he has had a great comeback. He’s shown his great potential and quality.
“No, I don’t think too long (his absence), but I cannot tell how long. It’s not really bad and we expect him to be back quite soon in the team.”
United’s first-ever game against Moldovan opponents will be their last for 17 days.
Sunday’s league visit of Leeds has been postponed due to police resources being stretched in the build-up to the Queen’s funeral on Monday, so United will next be in action away to neighbours Manchester City on October 2.
Defeat to Sociedad has put United under extra scrutiny in this competition, and Ten Hag said: “Pressure is for every game, because we have to win every game.
“When you lose the first game, you have to win the second, so we know what our task is.
“We always play a strong team, so also here we will play a strong team.
“Our players are used to playing a game every third day. If that’s not the case, we use the last days for good training sessions.
“It was really helpful and we are well prepared for the game.”
Sheriff beat Omonia 3-0 in Cyprus in their group opener last week, and have been formidable opponents on the European stage in the recent past.
Last September, Sheriff stunned eventual Champions League winners Real Madrid by beating them 2-1 in Spain.
Ten Hag said: “They beat Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk last year, they are capable of doing that.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was part of the 22-man United squad that travelled to Moldova, although Ten Hag would not confirm whether the Portuguese will start the game.
Luke Shaw has also made the trip after missing two of the last three games with a minor foot injury.
But Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka joined Rashford in missing out.
United earlier confirmed their 25-man squad list for the 2022-23 Premier League season, with Phil Jones not included.
The 30-year-old defender’s contract is up at the end of the season.
Jones, signed from Blackburn in 2011, has made nearly 230 United appearances.
He signed a four-year contract in 2019 when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in charge at Old Trafford.
But Jones has been dogged by injuries and made only 13 appearances over the last two seasons.