Marcus Rashford pulls out of England squad after picking up knock in Man Utd’s win over Fulham

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Man Utd’s Marcus Rashford, Chelsea’s Mason Mount and Newcastle’s Nick Pope all pull out of England squad to face Italy and Ukraine in Euro 2024 qualifying; Tottenham goalkeeper Fraser Forster replaces Pope for first call-up since March 2022

Marcus Rashford has withdrawn from the England squad to face Italy and Ukraine, while Nick Pope and Mason Mount will also not link up with the Three Lions.

Rashford was taken off seven minutes from time in Sunday’s FA Cup win at Old Trafford, with the FA confirming on Monday he will sit out the international double header after picking up a knock.

Chelsea manager Graham Potter had already confirmed ahead of Saturday’s draw with Everton, which Mount sat out, that the midfielder would not be fit to leave for international duty despite initially finding himself named in Gareth Southgate’s squad.

“Yes [I was surprised to see him named],” Potter said on Friday. “Probably, as a club we will seek clarity about why he was. He needed a bit of time for his injury to settle down, which pretty much ruled him out of the England thing.

“Whether that means they needed a bit of time to double-check that, I don’t know. But I don’t think there’s anything untoward at all. It’s more sometimes these things can be named but there are still a couple of days where things can be changed. But as far as I was aware, from my selection perspective, he was unavailable for the weekend.”

Nick Pope completed 90 minutes in Newcastle’s win at Nottingham Forest on Friday night but the FA have said an injury suffered during the game has ruled him out of contention.

It has been reported that despite playing the full game at the City Ground, the goalkeeper missed large parts of training last week ahead of the match.

Tottenham’s Fraser Forster, who has stood in as the club’s No 1 in the continued absence of Hugo Lloris in recent weeks, has been called up in Pope’s place. It is his first call-up to the international squad since last March.

‘Rashford absence a blow but England can get by’

Bukayo Saka celebrates after scoring Arsenal’s second goal against Crystal Palace

Former England striker Alan Smith on Sky Sports News:

“Marcus Rashford has been in fantastic form but if England were going to be missing a player from any department, they’d probably chose that player from the attacking ranks.

“You wouldn’t choose defence because we are not overly blessed with options like we are in attack.

“Rashford has been sensational but then we do have Bukayo Saka, who has been in equally good form. We’ve got Phil Foden who has come back and is playing brilliantly. There is Jack Grealish too who has done well for Man City.

“Rashford is of course a blow, as is losing Mason Mount and Nick Pope. You don’t want to lose your regular England players from the squad for a couple of big games, but there are still great options for Gareth Southgate to choose from, especially in attack, so England can get by.”

‘Players will be up for Italy challenge’

More from former England striker Alan Smith on Sky Sports News:

“It’s good to start with Italy away.

“It won’t be a flat atmosphere, that’s for sure, and the adrenaline will be pumping for the players.

“We saw in the Nations League games at the end of last season where no-one could really get up for them, but this, going to Naples with a full house and an intimidating atmosphere against Italy, this is the type of match you want as a player.

“There’s also a bit of revenge in the air after that Euro 2020 final defeat.

“The big games against the big opponents, that’s what the players will be looking forward to.”

England’s upcoming European qualifiers

March 23 – Italy (a), kick-off 7.45pm

March 26 – Ukraine (h), kick-off 5pm

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