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Marcus Rashford’s Euro 2020 campaign ended in penalty heartache, but the Manchester United star was part of an unforgettable summer.
Rashford and the Three Lions came within a whisker of history, and even though they came up short at the final hurdle, the youngster made it clear how much the summer meant to him.
"This summer has ben one of the best camps I've ever experienced,” Rashford wrote in his emotional statement after the final, adding that he “dreamt of days like this”.
Rashford’s role in the summer tournament was limited by injuries, but he still remained a key part of the England camp.
Some of that can be put down to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – and under a previous regime such as that run by Sir Alex Ferguson, things could’ve been very different.
Marcus Rashford was part of England's unforgettable summer
Rashford is now set to make a decision on a long-standing shoulder problem with a likelihood of surgery which will rule him out for the first two months of the Premier League season.
It was a problem of which United were long aware, and one which saw Solskjaer warn Rashford may not be fit for Euro 2020.
But, speaking back in March, Solskjaer insisted he would do all he could to support Rashford’s quest to represent England in a summer tournament.
“Marcus wants to play for England – and hopefully he will be fit,” Solskjaer said.
“If he can get back and be fit enough to play for us before the international break then I don't see why he shouldn't play for England.
“Marcus is proud to represent England. I have spoken to Gareth and he will pick Marcus if he is fit. There is absolutely no problem.”
Rashford has Solskjaer's support despite impending shoulder surgery which could rule him out for Man Utd
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
Solskjaer’s support of Rashford was always clear, despite the fact it now leaves United facing up to two months without a key member of their squad.
Ultimately, Solskjaer was happy to let his player take the lead and embraced his determination to represent his country on the biggest stage.
In times gone by, things may have been different, with United players under Sir Alex Ferguson notorious for pulling out of international duty on numerous occasions.
Former midfielder Nicky Butt, who 39 caps for England, claimed a few years ago that Ferguson pulled him out of England squads.
"He never once said to me to fake an injury," said Butt.
Has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handled his international contingent correctly? Have your say below.
"He'd just say 'You’ve got an England friendly coming up and you’re not going'. And that was that.
"At one stage there was nine of us and he would pull one or two of us out and let the other six go.”
Rio Ferdinand also explained on an Instagram Live how Ferguson played a part in England’s Golden Generation underperforming.
“I think Fergie might have played a little part in it as well, because he was so clever,” Ferdinand said.
“You’d be going away, you’d finish a game on Saturday, you’d win a game on Saturday, and he’d go, ‘Right, I’ll see you after the international break boys’. And he’ll go like, ‘You, you and you, if you play more than 45 minutes I’m going to kill you when you get back’.
“So it would be in the back of your mind, you’d be thinking, ‘Oh my god, I’m under pressure when I come back’.
“I’d have played 90 minutes and you’re walking into training and he’s sitting looking at you like that [furious], ‘What did I tell you?’ It was mad.”
Whilst it is impossible to know exactly how Ferguson would have handled recent events, it seems Solskjaer has rejected the hard-nosed approach of his former manager when it comes to heading away from Carrington.
Keeping Rashford away from England duty may have been a tough task, but numerous clubs, including Liverpool with Mohamed Salah, have refused to let players head to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.
Solskjaer, however, has given Eric Bailly and Amad his blessing to represent the Ivory Coast, despite missing United’s pre-season action.
Amad and Eric Bailly will both appear for Ivory Coast during the Olympics in Tokyo this summer
Solskjaer told United's website: "I think everyone, when they grow up, watches the Olympics and can see Usain Bolt or Ryan Giggs. I saw him play in the Olympics [for Great Britain in 2012]!
"When your country calls you up, I think I can’t stand in the way of that boyhood dream being fulfilled.
"Of course, Eric is over-age but I think they can see the value of him and that’s why they brought him in.
"Amad is a young, exciting prospect. It’ll be good to see them. It’ll be their pre-season but they’ve got to come back with a medal. We need a nice feel about the place when they come back!”
United will hope Solskjaer’s relaxed approach will pay dividends and ensure the likes of Amad, Bailly and Rashford perform when they are able to return to the fold fresh from their international exploits.
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