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Ten Hag tells Rashford to follow Maguire and McTominay’s lead at Man Utd

Erik ten Hag has told Marcus Rashford he needs to follow the example of Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay if he wants to force his way back into Manchester United‘s starting line-up.

Both Maguire and McTominay were out of favour, out of the team and could have been out of Old Trafford if interested clubs had met United’s valuations back in August.

But they stayed, got their heads down and through performances in training and in matches are now mainstays in Ten Hag’s improving team.

And the United manager says it underlines that what he may have considered to be his first-choice line-up at the start of the season can change during a campaign down to the attitude, application and form of his players.

“It is what I said to Harry and Scott: it is up to them,” said Ten Hag. “They are here, they are great players and played [themselves] into the team. That’s what you expect from every player – there has to be dedication to aim for this.

“We have a squad and there is internal competition. If you want a successful season you need more than 11 players. In every season, it [selection] will turn and in every season it is [about] what is the best team.

“The team will always line themselves up [pick itself] and the best players who form the best team will play.”

Maguire and McTominay have turned their fortunes around at Man Utd (Photos: Getty)

Rashford was dropped to the bench for the midweek win over Chelsea after a lack-lustre display in the defeat at Newcastle where he – and Anthony Martial – were heavily criticised for not working hard enough and tracking back.

Ten Hag made it clear there is no place in any Premier League team – let alone United’s – for a player who is not prepared to roll up his sleeves and put in the hard yards.

He added: “‘Rashy’ knows exactly what to do. Nowadays in football it is not possible [to not work hard]. All top-level teams and all players are doing their jobs. When you can’t do it, you will not play. But I don’t attach that to ‘Rashy’ as he is doing the job.

“He is an incredible player. He’s not in this moment in the form he was last year but I am sure he will get there.”

Rashford is likely to remain on the bench for Saturday’s home game against Bournemouth, with Ten Hag set to name an unchanged team in which McTominay has emerged as a surprise leading scorer with six in all competitions plus one for his country.

Ten Hag says it has come as no surprise to him because he always knew the Scotland international midfielder had a nose for goals.

“Actually from the first moment I saw him, I thought he has a very good ‘smell’ to make it in the box and he is a very good finisher so it is not a surprise. When the team gets the balls into him he will finish,” Ten Hag said.

Despite all their problems, United find themselves only three points behind neighbours City and Ten Hag believes that highlights his insistence that his inconsistent team are heading in the right direction and also the ultra-competitive nature of the Premier League this season.

“We’ve had our setbacks but we’re in a better place now, we are performing better as a team and as individuals,” he said. “Everyone is killing everyone in the Premier League and you have to be 100 per cent ready for every game.”

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