Marcus Rashford says he is fully committed to England and does not care if onlookers criticise or question his dedication to the national team.
The 25-year-old is preparing for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia having withdrawn from March’s meet-up through injury.
Rashford has had to pull out of numerous camps over the years but his decision to head to New York while England were winning their Group C opener 2-1 in Italy sparked debate.
Boss Gareth Southgate defended the 51-cap forward’s decision to jet off to the United States at the time and the Manchester United forward says he was unmoved by critical voices.
“I didn’t see it, to be honest with you,” Rashford said. “I didn’t see it until I got home.
“I need time to switch off and recover, so I took a short trip, four days, then went back to do rehab and just try and get ready as soon as possible.
“With injuries, you can’t predict when they’re going to happen.
“Thankfully I have very few muscle strains and them type of injuries, but occasionally you do get impact injuries. The majority of my injuries have been that.”
Asked if people questioning his commitment to playing for his country hurt, Rashford replied: “Honestly, it doesn’t.
“I know that I’m committed to it 100 per cent, people are going to say what they’re going to say. It doesn’t really bother me.”
Rashford laughed off that talk as he prepares to play in his first qualifier since England won 4-0 away to Kosovo in November 2019 – the last international before the schedule paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He will surely get minutes in Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier at Malta, but the availability of England’s Manchester City quintet is unclear.
Jack Grealish, Kyle Walker, Phil Foden, John Stones and Kalvin Phillips arrived at St George’s Park on Tuesday after days celebrating their treble triumph.
Saturday’s Champions League win over Inter Milan saw City join Manchester United as the only English sides to win the Premier League, FA Cup and European Cup – a bruising moment for the red half of the city.
“To be honest, it’s not nice (to see City’s success) but at the same time it’s football,” United product Rashford said.
“The best team that’s consistently playing the best football is going to win the most trophies and they’ve managed to win three this year.
“Well done to them and we just move on now and it’s up to them to keep it up, and it’s up to the rest of us to try and catch them up.”
Asked if City’s achievements provide extra motivation, United’s homegrown star said: “Yeah, 100 per cent.”
Rashford’s attention now is squarely on international matters as a mammoth, unrelenting campaign finally comes to a conclusion.
He has made an eye-watering 61 appearances for club and country in an unprecedented campaign that had the World Cup in Qatar wedged in the middle.
That figure could reach 63 if he plays against Malta and at Old Trafford against North Macedonia on Monday – a qualifier that is just 23 days before United’s first pre-season match.
Rashford, when asked about the need for the calendar to be looked at, said: “I think that’s evident.
“It’s mad that at club level we’re playing against teams that are playing one game a week, and we’re playing three games a week from November up until we got knocked out of Europa League.
“It’s difficult but at the same time we’re used to doing it, but I don’t think it’s right.”
Rashford does not know what he would like to see altered but said he is “not the one that’s supposed to have the answers”.
“The players are going to push ourselves to the absolute limits,” he added.
“I did say it’s nothing new so it’s not a complaint or a dig, I’m just giving you my honest opinion and I don’t think it’s correct.
“We need to be given more time to recover between certain games and at different stages of the season.
“That’s my opinion but I don’t think it’s down to the players. We shouldn’t have to put ourselves in a position to speak out about something that we’re not in control of or we’re not going to make the final decision on.”