Would a fit Marcus Rashford currently start for Manchester United?
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There is no doubt that since an 18 year old Marcus Rashford made his Manchester United debut in February 2016, he has essentially been guaranteed a place in his boyhood club's starting lineup.

A sensational breakthrough season for the academy graduate was followed by impressive performances at international level – and the Wythenshawe–born boy continued to improve year on year.

However, despite becoming one of United's most important and iconic stars in recent times, doubt now looms over the 23-year-old's place in the starting lineup.

Will Rashford be guaranteed to start games when he recovers from his shoulder operation, or does he have a mountain to climb to get back into the side? 

Let's take a look.

  • New arrivals:

Rashford was often used on the right-wing last season due to United's lack of options in that area of the field, and although he gave that position a good go, it was clear to see that he is much more suited to cutting in from the left-hand side.

The lack of balance was evident when Rashford was playing on the right, which led United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to heavily invest in a naturally right-sided player; Jadon Sancho.

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It has been well documented that Sancho was the United boss' priority for a long time, and the Norwegian has finally got his man – much to the delight of the red side of Manchester.

The fact that Solskjaer is so fond of Sancho, accompanied by the fact that the Glazers spent £73 million on the ex-Borussia Dortmund player, means that it is hard to see Sancho not starting virtually every game on that right hand side.

Therefore, it is nearly impossible to see Rashford playing on the right of United's attack – the position in which Solskjaer opted to utilise him towards the back end of last season.

Despite this, Rashford is versatile and has proven to be more efficient in other attacking areas – yet Edinson Cavani is nailed on to start up top when he is fit.

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On top of this, Anthony Martial has now returned to full fitness and Anthony Elanga has started to put himself in contention for a starting place, so it could be a three way battle for who claims the starting spot on the left side of United's attack.

The rise of Greenwood:

Another player who could hinder Rashford's return to the starting XI is Mason Greenwood.

Quite similarly to Rashford himself, Greenwood started his United career brightly by scoring many goals and impacting games across the 2019/20 season.

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However, Greenwood got dropped from the England squad for off-the-field antics and unfortunately lost his best friend in close proximity – this seemed to have a huge impact on the 19-year-old's performances as he only registered one league goal until the back end of the 2020/21 campaign.

Yet the United youngster started to find his form again and was firing on all cylinders as last season drew to a close, forcing his way back into the England setup before an unfortunate injury forced him to withdraw from the Euros.

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Greenwood had another impressive pre-season and put in an excellent display last weekend as United ran riot against bitter rivals Leeds United, leading people to believe that you cannot drop a player who is impacting games as largely as Greenwood is.

If the Bradford-born man continues to emulate these high level performances, he could easily continue to keep his place once Rashford recovers from his shoulder operation.

The final say:

Another fator that raises question marks over Rashford's future in United's starting XI is his form last season. 

Despite racking up an impressive 21 goals in the 2020/21 campaign, the United star struggled for long periods and looked like a a shadow of his former self.

Also, some players never come back the same after a big operation – but that is yet to be seen for Rashford.

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There are many reasons to think that he will struggle to stake a claim for a starting spot once fully fit again, but it is fair to say that Rashford is United's best left-sided attacker when he is all guns blazing.

United fans can expect to have their questions answered in October when Rashford is due back in training.