Marcus Rashford has been warned that he faces becoming “the modern-day Theo Walcott”, with Stan Collymore urging the Manchester United and England star to make a definitive decision on his best position.
As things stand, the 21-year-old continues to switch between roles as a central striker and a wide forward.
He has operated in both positions for club and country, but is yet to nail down regular game time in either.
Collymore feels that is holding the Old Trafford academy graduate back, with current Everton winger Walcott another example of a player who promised much but failed to unlock his full potential.
“If Rashford isn’t careful then, sooner rather than later, he is going to find himself cast as the modern-day Theo Walcott,” Collymore, who earned three caps for England, told The Mirror.
“Someone who isn’t seen as an out-and-out winger or straight-up No.9 but a Jack of all trades as a forward and master of none.
“That’s why now is the perfect time for him to decide whether that’s the way he wants to go. Or would he rather be a player who lives or dies as a No.9.
“If he’s happy to play anywhere if it means being an England regular then that’s his call.
“But if that is the case over the next five to 10 years then I worry about the negative impact such a decision could have on his club career because of the message it sends.
“Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could well be forgiven for thinking, ‘Well, if this lad doesn’t have the confidence to back himself as England’s main No.9 then why should I back him at arguably the biggest club in the world? I’ll go out and buy an off-the-peg goalscorer in that case, someone who knows exactly what they are and what they want to be’.
“There’s no way Rashford can toddle off with England every few months and play out wide and then go back to Old Trafford and play like Ruud van Nistelrooy. So there’s a potential problem brewing for him.
“And at 21, maybe now is the time for him to say, ‘You know what, I might not get into the next three squads if I say I’ll only play as a No.9. But if that is the case then I’ll go back to Carrington during international breaks and say, ‘Gaffer, teach me everything I need to know about operating within the width of the 18-yard box and playing with my back to goal’.”
Rashford has netted 47 times in 174 appearances for United, while recording seven goals in 33 outings for his country.