John Barnes believes England’s Marcus Rashford may start the World Cup as a substitute despite an eye-catching display against Costa Rica.
Rashford opened the scoring with a blistering strike in the final pre-tournament friendly on Thursday, giving manager Gareth Southgate a timely reminder of his skills with a bright, attacking display.
Southgate must now consider whether the Manchester United forward has done enough to earn a starting shirt against Tunisia on June 18 but would need to rejig his system or drop Raheem Sterling to make room.
“Of course he has given Gareth Southgate something to think about, but if he plays Rashford as an attacking player does that mean Raheem doesn’t play?” Barnes told Press Association Sport.
“Raheem will start, for me, and I think Gareth likes Jesse Lingard too. Is Rashford on form? One goal in one game isn’t form because he hasn’t been doing that all season.
“Form isn’t one game before the World Cup, it’s achieved over a consistent period of time.
“But the good thing is he’s given you a problem, you know coming off the bench he give you something. It’s pleasing to know you can rely on him but I don’t believe he will necessarily start.”
Barnes, who is a Lidl grassroots ambassador, has been impressed by the efforts England have made to connect with fans, with squad members speaking openly and honestly in the media and a handful of players stopping late in the evening at Elland Road to sign shirts and pose for pictures with fans.
He also believes they will reach the quarter-finals in Russia and have a chance to do even better.
“They’ve made a conscious effort to get the fans on their side, there’s harmony,” he said.
“Stopping and signing autographs, taking selfies – that’s not a very modern Premier League thing to do. Players these days can be a little detached from their communities but they’ve clearly made an effort to change that.
“Going to this World Cup I think they can beat anyone but a feature of this young, inexperienced team is that they are going to be inconsistent.
“At times they will be brilliant and at times they’ll be okay. I expect quarter-finals. From there they’d have to put together three very good performances against the likes of Germany, Spain, Brazil.
“Of course they can win it but I won’t put any pressure on them. At the Euros in two years or the next World Cup there’ll be more demands.”
:: John Barnes is supporting FA Lidl Skills, the grassroots scheme which has provided three million opportunities for children age 5-11 to play football in England, over the last three years. More info at Lidl.co.uk/DreamBig